Committing to an exercise plan while pregnant can provide a wealth of benefits, according to the American Pregnancy Association. The organization notes that fitness can improve overall health and wellness, and also alleviate some common discomforts of pregnancy. It can even make labor and delivery easier.
Taking that workout outside can boost the benefits, because it often becomes more challenging for the same amount of effort, and provides plenty of fun, creative options, too. Trainers who specialize in prenatal fitness can give clients all of these advantages, while ensuring that workouts are safe and effective. Here are some ideas for helping clients make the most of prenatal outdoor fitness:
1. Power Walk
Whether on a track or a trail, power walking is helpful as a warmup, and can also be done as a standalone workout. This helps to get more circulation going in the legs, which is important for prenatal health.
2. Yoga in the Park
As the body changes to accommodate pregnancy, balance can become an issue, making yoga an attractive option. When done on grass rather than in a studio, there’s a subtle but important shift in maintaining balance that makes a yogini work a little harder. Also include the cat/cow sequence because it can build back muscles—a crucial preventive strategy for alleviating back pain during pregnancy.
3. Step-Ups and Bicep Curls
Using a park bench, bleachers, or even just a curb, step-ups help to strengthen the legs. Also, bicep curls done in intervals can get a client’s arms ready for picking up a baby. From there, you can incorporate other arm exercises with dumbbells, such as overhead presses.
4. Park Bench Dips and Pushups
After step-ups and curls, you can add tricep dips into the mix, which will help strengthen the arms more while also providing some core work. Having the client turn and face the bench, you can add incline pushups for more core strength, plus arm and shoulder building.
5. Tree Sit
Similar to a wall sit, having a client come into a squat and press her back against a tree will engage legs and core. This can be particularly helpful during later stages of pregnancy, when an expanding belly can easily throw off squat form. You can also use other natural “equipment” such as fence posts or rocks. Just be sure that a client can comfortably keep her back in proper position, especially when coming into and out of the squat.
6. Playground Workout
Kids aren’t the only ones who can benefit from playground time. Look for playgrounds that have equipment for climbing, swinging, pullups, and other actions that replicate a mud run course, even if it’s to a minor degree. Even using a client’s backyard playset can be handy, because you can do plyometric jumps over the swings, incline pushups, and pullups. Check the area in advance on the day/time that you’ll likely use it—for example, Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.—and gauge the level of activity. Many playground areas tend to be empty on school days.
7. Small Hill Walks
Any type of incline can be helpful for increasing a client’s stability without putting her into balance challenges. Choose small hills to start so that your client gets accustomed to the type of form she needs to walk up hills outside—which tend to make muscles work harder because of uneven terrain. Conquer the hills slowly, to build up muscle strength without overtaxing knees, calf muscles, and ankle joints. As she progresses, and if she likes this kind of training, you can build up to steeper hills while still making sure they’re achievable and free from hazards.
The great outdoors provides a breadth of options for prenatal workouts, and it can be fun to brainstorm with clients about how to get outside and maintain their fitness in a healthy and safe way.