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Pregnancy Health & Well-Being: Second-Trimester Workouts

Pregnancy Health & Well-Being: Second-Trimester Workouts

Looking after your health during pregnancy is vital both for yourself and your baby. Your body goes through a lot of changes during this time, and keeping fit and active can help you stay healthy and prepare your body for what’s to come. The question many women ask is how much exercise, and what type, is safe for themselves and their developing and growing baby.

In this article we will look specifically at workouts and exercises that are safe to do during the second trimester. And don’t worry – many of your first-trimester activities are safe to carry on with during this next stage. Of course, it’s still important to check in with your doctor and consult with a medical professional to get the ok on any workouts before you begin. As with most things in life, we recommend doing activities in moderation, particularly as the pregnancy progresses.

Workouts that have a low impact on your body, typically including swimming, prenatal yoga and walking, are ideal for the second trimester. And if you are able to work with an experienced pregnancy workout trainer, even better! Above all, keep in mind that this is a special time in your life, and that although it’s important to exercise, it should be done gently and in a fun and relaxed way.

Is it safe to exercise in the second trimester?

It is wise to apply common sense to whatever activities you are planning to do. For example, many women feel safe cycling on the roads during the first trimester, but feel a bit more vulnerable as the pregnancy progresses. One alternative to keep up the exercise in a less potentially hazardous environment is to cycle on a stationary bike rather than on the road. On a similar theme, you would not want to ski or do any other form of extreme sport!

Of course, do not feel the need to do any activities that make you feel uncomfortable, too hot, dehydrated or dizzy. And you certainly should immediately stop doing any activities that lead to abdominal or pelvic pains, bleeding or vaginal discharge.

Always have water on hand when exercising or working out. As for your heartbeat, there is no “ideal” rate when exercising during the second trimester, but a handy way of knowing whether you are overdoing it is if you struggle to maintain a regular conversation while exercising. Anything that leaves you unable to chat while doing it, is generally a bit too much exertion for the second trimester. As we mentioned above, it’s a combination of following medical advice and also listening to your body.

What exercise can I do in the second trimester?

When it comes to exercise in the second trimester, you have a lot of options! Here are some examples:

Taking walks

This is a fairly basic exercise activity and one that is usually safe for most women in the second trimester. Health professionals usually recommend this even up to hours before the birth itself. Try to walk as fast as you can comfortably, without overdoing it. And don’t forget to move your arms vigorously in order to help strengthen your upper body. You should be able to comfortably walk for half an hour a day for several days a week. If you are not a walker already, you can begin with a short walk and build it up.

Yoga exercises

In many ways, yoga is the perfect exercise during pregnancy, since it helps strengthen various areas of your body. In addition, by stretching your muscles, yoga will help cut down the pregnancy pains you will feel in your lower back during the third trimester, as well as reducing your blood pressure. Furthermore, you will learn how to breathe in time with your body movements and that will undoubtedly help you during labour and giving birth. As with all the exercise you do during your pregnancy, be sure not to take on too much, do not twist your abdomen and make sure you have support nearby to prevent yourself from falling. You should be able to comfortably do several sessions a week. Be sure to work with a yoga instructor who holds a pregnancy fitness certification. 

Swimming and water-based exercises

Exercising in a pool during pregnancy is one of the best types of second-trimester workouts. The reason for that is there is clearly a very low possibility of falling, and even if you do slip, the water around you will absorb any impact. Swimming as a second trimester workout plan will strengthen your whole body and boost your aerobic capability. Look for exercises that help strengthen your core and where you do not twist your abdomen. You should be able to comfortably enjoy doing water-based exercises several times a week. Most strokes are suitable in early pregnancy. 

Jogging and running

If you are a regular runner as part of your daily life and/or had a running regime in your first 13 weeks, you should be able to continue doing this as part of your second trimester workouts. You must bear in mind, however, that with your body changing and expanding, you will want to reduce the impact on your growing baby. The best way to achieve this is to run on flat surfaces or on a  running machine as long as it has safety/support bars on the side. you definitely want to avoid running on surfaces where you could trip over. As with all pregnancy workouts in the second trimester, reduce or stop this activity if you feel pains in your leg joints or back, or other problems such as difficulties breathing. It will naturally become harder to continue over time as your bump grows. Please make sure you are hydrated also, especially if you are outdoors in hot weather.

Can you do squats in the second trimester?

Here’s what we have to say when it comes to squats in the second trimester – there isn’t really an answer to this that fits every single pregnant woman in her second trimester. Some women will be able to do squats comfortably and easily as part of their second-trimester pregnancy workouts, while others will struggle to do even a few. In general, it is certainly possible to include squats in your pregnancy workout regime in the second trimester. They are regarded as safe for most pregnant women, and even recommended, since they aid in strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor. In addition, they help to enhance hip flexibility and movement, while also improving your circulation. 

And if all this sounds like it will come in handy, you’re right! That’s because these exercises will help get your body ready for labour and giving birth.

If you think about it, squatting is one of the birthing positions. Some women prefer it when giving birth, since it involves opening up the hips which simultaneously reduces pain and pressure on the back. Squatting is actually a very natural thing to do, since we all do it every day, such as when going to the toilet or picking up things that have fallen on the floor. Nonetheless, pregnant women in the second trimester should carry out squats in a careful and measured way. This means keeping your chest up, making sure your feet are flat on the floor, and your knees pointed in the same direction as your feet to maintain stability.

In addition to squats, many workouts should be safe for pregnant women in the second trimester and can be carried out several times a week to keep you fit and in shape. If you use weights during the workout, they should not weigh more than 5 pounds (about 2 kg). Workouts can include moving your legs from one side to another, raising your arms to shoulder height and back down, lifting your knees to stomach height (swapping between right and left every minute or so) and moving your arms in a circular motion from side to side across your body.

What exercises should you avoid in the second trimester?

Let’s go through some second trimester exercise restrictions. Needless to say, any sport that involves even the slightest possibility of causing you to fall and sustain injury to your abdomen is out. This includes sports such as skiing, gymnastics, ice/roller-skating, horse riding, bike riding and all forms of contact sports. And anything that requires you to go high in the air or underwater is to be avoided as well.

Other examples of workouts that you shouldn’t do in the second trimester of your pregnancy include lying flat on your back for a lengthy amount of time, since your growing uterus could press on your main blood vessels and restrict circulation to both you and your baby. Any abdominal movements, such as double leg lifts and full sit-ups, can strain your abdomen, so avoid them.

In a similar vein, avoid bending backwards or any movements such as deep knee bends which require a deep extension of certain joints. Also to be avoided are any jumping movements.

You must be careful of maintaining a safe body temperature during pregnancy in the second trimester too. Outdoor yoga, or any other type of workout in unusually hot weather that raises your body temperature by more than 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit, should be avoided. The reason for this is that the rise in temperature takes blood away from your womb and delivers it to your skin since your body will automatically act to cool down. on a similar theme, you must also stay away from jacuzzis, saunas and so on.

Your second trimester pregnancy workout routine

We want to offer you an example workout routine made up of exercises that are safe in the second trimester to follow or just use for inspiration.

MONDAY

Walking – 30 minutes

Intensity: Moderate pace

TUESDAY

Prenatal Yoga – 30 minutes

Focus: Gentle stretching, breathing exercises, and relaxation

WEDNESDAY

Strength Training (Bodyweight Exercises) – 20 minutes

Exercises:

1.  Squats: 2 sets of 10 reps

2. Wall Push-ups: 2 sets of 10 reps

3. Seated Leg Lifts: 2 sets of 10 reps per leg

4. Bicep Curls (using light weights or resistance bands): 2 sets of 10 reps

THURSDAY

Activity: Walking – 30 minutes

Intensity: Moderate pace

FRIDAY

Activity: Swimming or Water Aerobics – 30 minutes

Focus: Low-impact cardiovascular exercise, improving flexibility and strength

SATURDAY

Activity: Prenatal Pilates – 30 minutes

Focus: Core strength, stability, and flexibility

SUNDAY

Activity: Rest Day

Tip: Enjoy some light stretching and relaxation techniques

This routine provides a balanced mix of cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility exercises suitable for the second trimester of pregnancy.

Your at-home second trimester leg workout

Warm-Up (3 minutes)

  • Marching in Place: 1 minute
  • Gentle Leg Swings: 30 seconds per leg
  • Ankle Circles: 15 seconds each direction per ankle

Leg Workout (15 minutes)

1. Squats – 2 sets of 10

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, lower your body as if sitting back into a chair, keep your back straight, and knees behind toes. Slowly return to the starting position.

2. Side Leg Lifts – 2 sets of 10 per leg

Stand next to a wall or chair for support, lift one leg to the side without tilting your body, lower it back slowly.

3. Seated Leg Extensions – 2 sets of 10 per leg

Sit on a sturdy chair, extend one leg out straight and then lower it back down. Repeat with the other leg.

4. Standing Calf Raises – 2 sets of 15

Stand with feet hip-width apart, slowly rise up onto your toes, hold for a second, then lower back down.

5. Modified Lunges – 2 sets of 10 per leg

Stand with feet hip-width apart, step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Return to starting position and switch legs.

6. Wall Sits – 2 sets of 30 seconds

Stand with your back against a wall, slide down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, hold the position.

Cool Down (2 minutes)

  • Standing Quad Stretch: 30 seconds per leg
  • Hamstring Stretch: 30 seconds per leg
  • Deep Breathing: 1 minute, focusing on slow, deep breaths

Always listen to your body and adjust the exercises as needed. If anything feels uncomfortable or painful, stop and consult with your healthcare provider.

Final words

As mentioned, exercising can and should be done during the second trimester of your pregnancy. This should be taken with a combination of medical advice, professional instruction and listening to your own body.

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