We all struggle to fit in time to exercise. We know we need to do it, we know it is good for us but still it is difficult to fit it in. Especially when life gets in the way and we get busy. I know myself, that exercise can often be one of the first things that goes out the window when life gets busy. And when you have kids (or you are preparing to have kids)…life gets busy!
I am a physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic health and know how important it is to exercise when we are pregnant (as well as throughout life). We know that it benefits our mental wellbeing, decreases symptoms of depression and also helps with the prevention of excessive weight gain during pregnancy. There is also some evidence to show that it may help prevent pregnancy-related issues such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Regular exercise during pregnancy may also lead to a shorter and less complicated labour as well as less complications for baby.
So how can we make sure we keep consistent with exercise throughout our pregnancy? I have put together my top 5 tips for making sure you exercise when you are pregnant.
Tip #1 – Workout at Home:
Working out at home is a great way to fit in exercise. You don’t have to get out of your daggy clothes, you don’t have to do your hair, you don’t have to drive to a gym and you don’t have to organise childcare if you already have kids.
There are so many amazing workouts you can do at home, such as simple Pilates based exercises, exercise circuits that are modified for pregnancy or simply going out for a walk.
If you are busy and short on time then working out from home, decreases the amount of time actually required to do a workout.
For example: Going to a gym to do a workout
Getting changed and ready to leave – 10 minutes
Driving to the gym – 15 minutes (obviously this depends but I’m thinking this would be about average?)
Getting in and organised to begin your workout – 5 minutes
WORKING OUT! – 30 minutes
Gathering everything and leaving the gym – 5 minutes
Driving home again – 15 minutes
Unpacking and getting changed – 5 minutes
Total – nearly 1 1/2 hours!
Going for a 30 minute walk or doing a 30 minute workout at home in your old trackies – 30 minutes
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any extra hour a day to be wasting getting to and from the gym (although with the amount of time I spend scrolling Instagram and TikTok…maybe I do!)
Tip #2 – Schedule It In:
“The things that get scheduled are the things that get done” is a great quote by Robin Sharma who wrote The Monk that Sold his Ferrari.
I know myself, if I have time blocked out and is it written down in my to do list, it is 500x more likely that I will do something than if it is just in my head and I am not making it a priority. Maybe it is just the way my brain works but I love nothing more than ticking things off my to do list. I may sometimes even write things in there, just to tick them off 😂
When we are busy things are alway going to crop up, but if we have carved out that time, we are less likely to throw the towel in and give up.
If we acknowledge that exercise is important and a priority for our pregnancy and we take the time to enter it into our planner, then we are setting ourselves up for success. And I am all for setting myself up for success.
Tip #3 – Short workouts work!
We can break down our workouts into smaller chunks so that we’re not having to do a whole 30 or 40 minutes in one hit. Sometimes it’s easier and more manageable when you’re busy to break the workouts down into short bursts of 10 minutes at a time.
Times that may be good to try doing these short bursts exercise may be when you’re waiting for dinner to cook for you are watching TV at the end of the day or you have a few minutes before you need to go and pick the kids up from school. Another time that I try and sneak in small bursts of activity is when I am hanging around waiting for after school activities to finish. Sometimes I’ll find myself with half an hour to spare and while it is really easy to sit in the car scrolling social media or popping to Kmart to have a browse, I do sometimes use that time to go for a quick walk.
If you are really still struggling to find the time to fit exercise in, then we can break it down even further. You may be waiting for the jug to boil in the morning and you can fit in a couple of sets of squats or you might be brushing teeth and you can do some calf raises or pelvic floor exercises.
The key is that we want you to be active. Something is better than nothing. And if you are being consistent with little bursts of activity and that becomes a habit, then you can start to build from there and add a little bit more in each week.
The one thing I tend to see with patients that are trying to start an exercise routine is that they jump in, boots and all, create a massive schedule for themselves and then as soon as they fall off the wagon (which we all do! We are human), they give up.
My biggest pieces of advice for people in regards to exercise are:
- Find something that you enjoy
- Start small and build the habit
We want to build the habit or exercise and being active for the lifetime, not just for a few months, so starting out slow and steady and build that habit. Once you have formed the habit, then you will generally want to do a bit more and a bit more anyway.
Step #4 – Make it fun with listening to music or a podcast
If you aren’t someone who naturally loves exercise (you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog post if you were) then do what you can to make it fun!
For me depending on what mood I am in, I will either listen to music or one of my favourite podcasts.
I am currently training for a marathon (Yes, I know, what the heck! How little training can I do and still successfully run a marathon…hmmm…). And as a little tangent to this blog post, the reason I have signed up to do a marathon, is I know I am terrible as staying consistent with exercise if I don’t have a goal in mind. If I have a goal (like said marathon), I am usually pretty good (well, much better anyway) at sticking to the plan and exercising regularly.
Anyway, as I was saying, I am training for a marathon and I have created a Spotify playlist of songs for my training. Now the funny thing is, I know I run significantly faster when I am listening to upbeat music then I do when I am listening to a podcast. So I have a playlist that is full of music that I would generally not even listen to otherwise, but it is upbeat, has a fairly fast beat and keeps my feet moving one in front of the other.
Sometimes though, I am really lacking motivation and I will go out for a walk with the reward of zoning out and listening to one of my favourite podcasts or an audiobook. This makes the time go by really quickly and I love it because, being a busy mum, I don’t really make the time to sit down and just listen to a podcast or audiobook. So for me having time to myself (sans children) and tucking into a podcast episode or audiobook is something of a treat.
Step #5 – Go easy on yourself and listen to your body, be fluid with it
Growing a little human inside your body is hard work and it can be draining for your body.
So give yourself some grace and go easy on yourself if you need to. If you aren’t feeling up to it and your body is telling to you rest, then rest. But just check in with yourself to make sure it is actually your body that is needing the rest and not just that its a bit cold, you had a crappy day and you can’t be bothered!
If you just can’t be bothered, just start small, say to yourself ‘I’ll just do 5 minutes of walking’ or ‘I’ll just do the warm up to my exercise routine. Chances are if your just not in the mood for exercise, then by the time you actually start (that’s the hardest bit) then you’ll find yourself happily doing more than you initially anticipated.
Also, don’t stress too much if you aren’t feeling like doing the workout you had planned. If you had a circuit scheduled and can’t face it, do a short walk or a stretching routine. Something that feels a bit easier and achievable in the moment. Again, something is better than nothing.
So the big takeaways today are anything is better than nothing. We need to keep active and move when pregnant and my 5 top tips of:
- Working out at home
- Scheduling it in
- Doing short workouts
- Making it fun
- Go easy on yourself
Hopefully these tips will help you to get moving and stay moving in your pregnancy.