Can't hike, don't swim, what's a pregnant lady to do for exercise?
December 12, 2010 5:35 AM   Subscribe

I need a way to exercise while pregnant that isn't hard on my feet. But not swimming. Ideas?

Normally I'm a walker/hiker, but I'm having some trouble with my feet pretty early in my pregnancy (3 months) that's making long walks difficult or impossible.

*Standing or walking for a long time is painful because of my feet issues (probably pressure on the sciatic nerve, though diagnosis is not yet firm; I am working with my doctor and may go see a physical therapist, though I currently have no restrictions on my activities other than the normal pregnancy restrictions and common sense)
*I have a toddler. I am home with him during the day; I work (some) nights.
*Swimming isn't an option, though I realize it's the natural #2 suggestion; I HATE it, I don't have easy pool access (certainly not with childcare available), and the pool chemicals trigger an asthma reaction that's doubly unwelcome during pregnancy.
*It's cold and periodically snowy, so outdoor activities are limited (though not out of the question, at least as long as it isn't icy)

Things I have:
*I have access to a gym with lots of cardio machines and a full compliment of weight machines and free weights, AND child care.
*A DVD player, a smallish exercise area in front of it, and a willingness to try videos
*Wii Fit
*A toddler who thinks it's hilarious when I bench press him
*Excellent pre-natal care with doctors who are happy to discuss any exercise ideas with me if I need to ask questions

I'm don't know if yoga, for example, would be a good option or not; there's only one pregnancy yoga class near me and it's on a night I work, but I could get a video. But is it too much standing? What about a stationary bike, or a recumbent?

I'm not looking to train for a marathon, just keep up some reasonable cardiac fitness while pregnant so I'm not a total couch potato, especially with my feet giving me trouble. I'm not super-exercise-lady normally but I like to hike and feel that healthy feeling of "hey, I am not a slug!" and I'm a little frustrated by not being able to (and would prefer to keep healthy!). So suggestions for exercise that leave my feet out of it are welcome, even if you weren't pregnant, just having foot trouble ... I can always adapt.
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Something like this might be what you're looking for. Low impact, meets requirement for cardio.
posted by dougrayrankin at 5:41 AM on December 12, 2010

Buy a cruiser bicycle from Walmart for $89, or borrow one from someone and bike around your neighborhood.
posted by Malice at 5:43 AM on December 12, 2010

Best answer: Using a stationary bicycle is indeed low-impact and easy on the body, but I'd suggest a recumbent stationary bicycle as it's easier on the back and harder on the larger muscles of the thigh.
posted by pammeke at 6:02 AM on December 12, 2010

My gym has a sort of hand-cycle thing they call the Grinder. I'm not sure what the correct term for it is; it has a tank of water which generates the resistance, and two' pedals' which you hold with your hands. You can use it sitting down, and it's just as strenuous as cycling on a stationary bike. Maybe your gym has one too?
posted by embrangled at 6:09 AM on December 12, 2010

Best answer: I love recumbent bikes. Much more comfortable.
posted by SMPA at 6:17 AM on December 12, 2010

Best answer: Yes a recumbent bike is probably the most comfortable. But a pregnancy yoga video isn't a bad idea either. Plus your toddler can also join in doing the yoga.
posted by gomichild at 6:37 AM on December 12, 2010

A quick googling yields numerous pregnancy yoga DVDs. Maybe someone here has a recommendation for one. If your gym offers yoga classes talk to the instructors to see if they know about modifying their classes for pregnant women. We have yoga classes at work. A pregnant colleague took them through her 8th month. Our teacher gave her personal attention. It's probably just coincidence, but she had less than an hour of labor and it was her first baby.
posted by mareli at 6:38 AM on December 12, 2010

At the gym, try the rowing machine for cardio.
posted by eleslie at 6:51 AM on December 12, 2010

Best answer: I'm 7.5 months pregnant and I still go to the gym about three times a week and take a pregnancy yoga class once a week.

At the gym I try to keep my workouts to about 30-40 minutes, with frequent water breaks, and frequent equipment switches. I've been having issues with my lower back, so my favorite machines are the ones where I can workout while sitting down. I especially love the recumbent exercise cycle, and a machine that resembles a recumbent elliptical with arms. Sometimes I switch to the rowing machine or the stand-up elliptical, but usually for no more than five or seven minutes at a time.

I also spend about ten minutes doing light arm workouts with five pound weights, usually bicep curls and shoulder presses.

I love my pregnancy yoga class. There are frequent changes in position, so we only spend about a third of the class on our feet, and not for very long. It's definitely good for my body in a different way than the gym is, and I usually leave the classes feeling lighter, more limber, and less stressed.

The best part of taking any pregnancy whatever class in commiserating with the other pregnant ladies, but you've already done all of this before, so I video might be a fine substitute.
posted by Alison at 7:13 AM on December 12, 2010

Best answer: I love recumbent bikes. Much more comfortable.

I was going to suggest the same, if your gym has one. You don't have to expend nearly as much energy keeping yourself upright and hanging onto the handle bars, which makes it more pleasant to do and because you can concentrate your energy on pumping the pedals.

And the pregnancy yoga sounds perfect. Might help the feet symptoms too.
posted by gjc at 8:35 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to add that if that's a reputable yoga studio (the one with the pregnancy class that's hard for you to get to) you should go and try a level 1 class, a restorative class, an "easy does it" class --this early in your pregnancy you can definitely do a regular class with modifications. Well-trained teachers do this all the time -- but since there are definitely stupid teachers and stupid studios you might want to go speak with them first.

I hadn't discovered yoga yet when I was pregnant, so through my whole pregnancy I stuck to the elliptical and the recumbent bike, switching back and forth. You can definitely get a good workout and keep your heart rate within acceptable limits. (My doc asked me to limit it to 135; your doc may have different ideas.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:15 AM on December 12, 2010

I recommend the ergo (aka rowing machine) in your gym. Erging is a great non impact exercise one can do. I would prefer it over a stationary bike because erging using more muscles (especially in the back) and gives a more balanced cardio workout.
posted by dragontail at 10:50 AM on December 12, 2010

Hey, rowing machine fans: Rowing involves bending sharply at the abdomen, right?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:46 AM on December 12, 2010

Best answer: I'd recommend yoga or pilates - my pelvis did not allow for bicycling. At all. Bonus of yoga and pilates? Helped with the muscular strain of pregnancy. Recumbent bikes might work, but I couldn't tolerate a bike from about 4 months in.
posted by geek anachronism at 12:34 PM on December 12, 2010

Response by poster: Okay, so it sounds like I'll try the recumbent bike at the gym, and maybe look for a pregnancy yoga DVD. (Getting to the studio on a regular basis is unlikely with my current schedule.) Hopefully the biking will agree with my pelvis, and the yoga may help with the back. Does anyone have a specific pregnant yoga DVD they like?

I like the rowing machine, but can you really do it while pregnant? I feel like my belly would get in the way. (My gym also doesn't have too many rowing machines, which is why I don't typically do it, there's always huge guys rowing like mad.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:05 PM on December 12, 2010

Response by poster: Oh, embrangled, my gym doesn't have an arm bike, although I know exactly what you're talking about! I had to use one in physical therapy years ago and it was a machine of TORTURE! (Recovering from an arm injury.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:06 PM on December 12, 2010

If it's all snowy around your place, I wonder whether cross-country skiing might be worth a try. The slidey movement might not have the same effect on your feet that normal walking does, and you can use the poles for extra support. It might scratch the hiking itch...
posted by lollusc at 3:15 PM on December 12, 2010

Nthing the recumbent bike and elliptical trainer. I found that pilates was a much more enjoyable workout compared to yoga during pregnancy. Something about the yoga irritated me, I can't quite put my finger on it. I also did a couple of the balance ball videos, they were okay for a change of pace.

What didn't work for me was jogging or anything that required a lot of balance like climbing or cross country skiing. My center of gravity was all wonky and changing too fast for me to feel sure on my feet.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 5:51 PM on December 12, 2010

Not that you sound likely to do it anyway, but I would strongly recommend against doing any yoga that is not guided by someone who is very knowledgable about pregnancy issues. An instructor who filled in once at my regular preggo yoga class had us doing downward dog and other poses which I later discovered should really be avoided. The last thing you want is yet another ailment!
posted by 8k at 12:49 AM on December 13, 2010

Response by poster: I will skip the elliptical ... I tip sideways and fall off it when I'm NOT pregnant, so it's probably a bad pregnancy option. They make me dizzy and I lose my balance, I'm not sure why!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:00 AM on December 13, 2010

If you are stuck at home and just want to move around a bit, look up Chair Exercises and try some of those.
posted by CathyG at 8:24 AM on December 13, 2010

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