For many years, exercising during pregnancy was discouraged by physicians. Pregnant women were believed to be fragile and susceptible to injury.

In recent years, the recommendation of “no exercise” during pregnancy has been changed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and is much less restrictive.

There were original concerns of how exercise could affect the mother and fetus, however recent studies have reversed many of those concerns and found that mothers who were more fit suffered from less physical discomfort, better self-image, and less complications during pregnancy.

Here are four great low-impact, physical therapist recommended exercises for expecting moms who want to strengthen their core area.

Opposite Arm/Leg Lift

This exercise is very low impact and is a great warm -up exercise. Starting on all fours, extend the right arm out straight and level with your back above your head. At the same time, extend the left leg straight back, repeating both sides 10 times each. Alternately, if balance is an issue, extend the arm only, then the leg only.

Ball Leg Extension

An exercise ball can be a very handy tool for many low impact exercises. For this exercise, simply sit on the ball securing your balance with your hands and sit upright, as straight as possible with your knees at a 90 degree angle. Slowly lift your right leg out and up with your knee locked at your hip height, and then slowly back down. Repeat with both legs eight to 12 times. A good cadence for this would be four to five seconds for each leg.

Side Planks

Typically, side planks can be challenging, but in this variation, you lay on your right side with your elbow at a 90-degree angle with your knees bent and your legs behind you. With all of your weight on your right elbow, right hip, and right knee, slowly lift your hip until your spine is straight and hold for 10 to15 seconds. Repeat five to 10 times and switch sides. This exercise is excellent for those oblique core muscles.

Deep Squat

The deep squat is a good stretch that will relax and lengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Start by standing with your legs wider than hip length apart with your hands in front of you in a prayer position. Slowly squat down with your hands in front of you so your bottom almost touches the floor. (Basically as far as you can comfortably go.) Feel the deep stretch and come up slowly. Repeat this as many times as you feel comfortable, or as many times as your physical therapist recommends.

There are many more excellent low impact exercises available to expecting moms, and working with a licensed physical therapist is a great place to start. Engaging in physical therapy during pregnancy can ensure less pain and discomfort and help prepare an expecting mom’s body to bring life into the world.

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