You probably don’t feel like exercising at the best of times, let alone when you have baby growing inside of you. But exercise doesn’t have to mean sweat-drenched pumping iron. Our simple walking plan will pep you up and keep you in shape. And if you do it regularly, you can increase your cardiovascular fitness, burn calories, tone muscles and overcome those low-energy moments when you feel tired and down.
What’s more, walking throughout pregnancy can reduce the length of your labour and decrease delivery complications, and babies of women who exercise regularly tolerate labour better than those of non-exercisers.
Our step-by-step walking guide
Once you’ve had the all clear at your six-week checkup, you’ll have no problems following our programme here. However, before you start, make sure you’ve got the all clear from your GP or midwife to exercise. And while you’re exercising, keep the following in mind:
- Never exercise to the point of breathlessness.
- Check that your footwear gives you sufficient support.
- Avoid walking on uneven surfaces.
This week is all about getting your body used to a new exercise routine. You’ll start slowly and gradually build up to include some faster speeds.
Walk at a moderate speed for five minutes, speed up a little for five minutes and then cool down by walking slowly for five minutes.
Walk at a moderate pace for five minutes, walk briskly for two minutes, and then walk slowly for two minutes. Repeat.
Spend five minutes gradually building to a moderate walking pace and maintain this pace for a further five minutes. Cool down and walk at a moderate pace for three minutes, then speed up for a further four minutes before walking slowly for three minutes to cool down.
You can now add toning moves before, during or after your workout to increase calorie burning and blitz problem areas.
Walk 15 minutes at a brisk pace then stop and do two sets of triceps dips on a chair or bench. Sit on the edge and position your hands close to your sides, palms facing forward. Bend your legs in front of you with your knees at a 90° angle. Lift your bottom off the bench so your arms support you and slowly lower your body towards the floor until your elbows reach a 90° angle. Then push yourself back to your starting position.
Walk for a further 10 minutes at a slightly slower pace.
Walk for five minutes, then stop and perform 10 lunges on each leg. From a standing position, take a stride forward, keeping your feet hip-width apart. Slowly lower to the floor, keeping your torso still and straight. When both knees are at a 90° angle (ensure that your front knee doesn’t come over your toes) slowly push back up to your starting position. Use a bench or lamppost to help you keep your balance if you need to.
Continue walking at a fairly brisk pace for a further 10 minutes before then perform another set of lunges on each leg.
Walk for 10 minutes, with three minutes at a brisk pace. Stop and do a set of lunges and a set of triceps dips. Walk briskly for three minutes, slowly for two minutes, then briskly for five minutes. Stop and do another set of lunges and triceps dips. Walk slowly for five minutes to cool down.
If you come back to this programme after you’ve given birth, start from Session 3 of Week 1.
Continue to increase the intensity by adding hills and/or walking faster. After you’ve given birth you can up the pace and work at a higher intensity – you’ve nothing to fear from getting a bit sweaty and a little out of breath.
Work your pelvic floor. During one of your longer, moderate-intensity walks, work your pelvic floor muscles. Pull up on your pelvic floor (you do this by replicating the feeling you get from holding your wee mid-flow) and keep the contraction for a count of 10. Then relax and repeat this a further five times. Try to do this 3-4 times during the course of your walk.
Try and include at least one 45-minute long, moderately paced walk each week. This leads to an increase in greater fat burning.
Be sure to vary the intensity of how hard you’re pushing yourself then recovering by taking it easy. This will boost your fitness and give your metabolism a kick-start, which will enable you to burn calories more efficiently.