Squeezing easy exercises into your daily routine
You probably already know all the reasons why you should exercise during pregnancy. They are pretty much all the same reasons why you should exercise when you’re not pregnant. Exercise is good for your heart, your mood, your sleep, and your energy level. There are even more reasons for mamas-to-be to break a sweat: exercise can ease pregnancy aches and pains as well as the emotional aches and pains of postpartum depression. It can help to prevent gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, and it can keep your in utero tadpole from being excessively large. It’s no surprise, then, that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies exercise for at least 30 minutes daily.
So you know all about why you should exercise, but, chances are, what you really need to figure out is how to exercise.
You’re busy. You’re exhausted. Your schedule is jam-packed. You’re saving every cent you can for when the baby’s born because you’re going to be making do on one income, and you don’t have money for the gym or exercise classes. And—let’s face it—you’ve never been the biggest fan of exercise, anyway. It’s great in theory, but in reality, it is just such a colossal pain.
We get it—and we’re here to help! Here is our first helpful hint: exercise is not an all-or-nothing affair—like, say, having a baby. There are plenty of ways you can sneak little bits of exercise into your busy day so that it doesn’t cost a penny, doesn’t take time out of your schedule, and doesn’t feel hopelessly intimidating. Here is a handful of simple ways to sneak in exercise while you go about your day:
When you’re stuck in traffic: Steering-wheel push-ups. Stick your hands on the wheel at 9:00 and 3:00 o’clock (formerly 10:00 and 2:00 o’clock), just like a good little driver’s-ed student. Flex both arms. Next, pull yourself toward the wheel for three counts and push yourself away for three counts. Repeat 10 times.
When you get to work: Take the stairs. Who needs a StairMaster when you’ve got the real deal? Taking the stairs instead of the elevator will get your heart working and tone those legs and glutes. It will also help you avoid whatever annoying office mate you always get stuck talking to in the elevator.
When you’re in a meeting: Glute squeezes—and why not throw in some Kegels? This is an easy one. Squeeze your glutes for 30 seconds, release, then repeat. Do the same with your Kegels. You want your parts in good working order for after the baby’s born and you hit the dating scene again.
When you’re talking on the phone: Leg lifts. If you can stand in your workplace, get up on your feet. Shift your weight to the right leg and lift the left leg straight out to the side. Don’t lift your torso. Lower your left leg, repeat 10 to 15 times, and then switch to the other side. You can hold on to the wall for balance.
If you have to stay seated, raise your right leg parallel to the floor, hold it for 10 seconds, then lower. Repeat 10 to 15 times before switching.
When you’re on lunch break: Walk. Walking counts as exercise! It doesn’t have to be a five-mile hike, either—even taking a 10-minute walk at lunch will get your blood circulating, bring your heart rate up, and probably make you feel a whole lot more alert and even-keeled.
When you’re cooking (or nuking) your dinner: Pliés. You don’t have to be a ballerina to get your plié on. Rest one hand on a chair, table, or counter, and place your feet hip-distance apart. Turn out your toes and knees to 45 degrees, and bend your knees, lowering your torso as low as possible while keeping your back straight. Straighten your legs, and repeat 10 to 15 times.
When you’re watching TV: Lie-down leg lifts. If your inner thighs could use a little toning (and really, who’s couldn’t?), try leg lifts while tuning in to your favorite guilty-pleasure TV. Lie on your right side, head supported by your forearm. Bend your right leg at a 45-degree angle, and keep your left leg straight. Place your opposite arm on the floor for support. Lift your left leg to hip height, and repeat for reps. Then spin around and do the other side.
When you’re hanging with your friends: Dance. The ultimate proof that exercise doesn’t have to be mind-numbingly boring and totally tedious? There is no better full-body workout then rocking out to your jam. Hit a club with the ladies, or just turn up the volume on your phone, but get up on your feet and shake your booty.
Nicole C. Kear, is the author of Now I See You: A Memoir, recently published by St. Martin’s Press. Kear, who lives in New York City, is also an editor, speaker, and mother of three.
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