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Prenatal cardio: Planning your cardio routine

By Published On: April 7th, 2012

You have a variety of prenatal cardio workouts to try! And they’re guaranteed to both keep you from getting to bored while preparing you to be in the best possible health when you enter your pregnancy. Be sure to check out all the prenatal cardio articles, including swimming, jumping rope, hula hooping, and even some muscle toning calisthenics.

Now the question is how to put them together to make a cardio routine from which you can get the best results!

Getting in at least three days of cardio a week is a great basic start to incorporating cardio into your life. This is especially so if you have not been exercising regularly. Or if you have a packed schedule and working cardio into it seems difficult. Three days is recommended as a good cardio amount by health and fitness experts, so if you feel as if you can ‘only’ get three days in, you are doing great! Don’t be discouraged just because you aren’t working out seven days a week.

In fact, your body naturally needs rest, so working out every day of the week will only burn your energy out and keep you from working out at all. If you have already been active and you have the time, feel free to bump your workouts to four, five, or even six days a week. But listen to your body. If it starts feeling extra tired, unusually sore, or drained of energy in the middle of your workout, you need to cut back. It is all right to feel a little lethargic and tired before the workout, but if you are still feeling the same after 5-10 minutes, when your heart is really pumping, it is a sign that you should call it a day.

Keep in mind that the more, or harder, you workout before you become pregnant, the more likely you are to be able to keep up a rigorous routine throughout your pregnancy. It is always extremely important to remember though, that even though you may be in top notch shape before you are pregnant, your body changes during pregnancy and you will need to be completely in tuned to your body throughout each trimester to make sure you are not over working yourself.

If you choose to workout three days a week, alternate days. For instance, Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday. That way your body has a chance to rest and recover on the off days.

A sample for a three day, beginner’s cardio workout could be as follows:

Day Workout Time
Monday Walking 30 min
Wednesday Jumping rope 15 min
Friday Stairs 20 min

This workout sample started with one of the easier workouts, walking, for 30 min. It then progressed to jumping rope, which is a much more challenging exercise. Consequently, the time was reduced to half. And then Friday is stairs, which is still challenging, for 20 min.

Day Workout Time
Monday Swimming 30 min
Wednesday Jumping rope/Hula hooping 30 min total
Friday Cycling/Stairs 60 min total

This workout sample shows how you can mix and match cardio work. Swimming is an all body exercise and can easily be done on its own for a well rounded workout. However, with jumping rope and hula hooping, you are working both your legs and your waist. And you can alternate between the two: jump rope for 10 min, hula hoop for 5 min. This way you give your lungs a breather from jumping rope but still keeping your cardio going with hula hooping. The same principle with cycling and stairs. You can bike to a building with stairs, run stairs for 15 min, and then bike back home.

If you would like to add calisthenics in for cardio as well as some serious muscle toning and strengthening, consider taking out a cardio and inserting calisthenics.

Week 1

Day Workout Time
Monday Walking 30 min
Wednesday Calisthenics 25 min
Friday Stairs 20 min

Week 2

Day Workout Time
Monday Calisthenics 25 min
Wednesday Running 30 min
Friday Calisthenics 25 min

With this sample, you can see how you can alternate days of calisthenics while still keeping up with cardio. By alternating the cardio and calisthenics every other week, you are getting a balance of both types of exercise.

If you choose to add in more days per week, start by making your workouts shorter and less intense. Consider alternating calisthenics, as mentioned above, into your routine so your body is not constantly pounding away at the heavier cardio exercises.

By establishing a consistent prenatal cardio workout routine, you are preparing your body for pregnancy. Your body is about to go through some major changes, requiring the utmost from you to stay in shape and healthy for both your baby and you. Strengthen yourself so your joints will be stronger and hurt less, your energy levels will be higher, and your labor and delivery will go faster and smoother. You want to enjoy your pregnancy! So start working out!

[Disclaimer: Read this introduction before you begin any exercise program.]

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