Left to right: Emily Blunt, Natalie Portman, Penelope Cruz, Hilary Duff and Chrissy Teigen

Pregnancy is a time to kick back and enjoy some (a lot) guilt-free norms. Right?  Plot twist – how about you kick things up a notch?

Your body – and your baby – will thank you for it. Children of mothers who have exercised during pregnancy have improved mental and physical health from childhood well into adulthood. These are the findings of an immense study; Mothers’ Exercise During Pregnancy Programmes Vasomotor Function in Adult Offspring, published in Experimental Physiology in 2013.

Other studies have found that active, athletic women have excellent blood circulation (which is the result of regular workouts). This blood circulation is good news for your unborn baby as it stimulates growth of the foetus and health of the placenta.

And the added benefit of course: you will feel stronger and more prepared for childbirth.

Steal these fitness moves from these celebrity mums

1. Take a hike

In the earlier stages of her pregnancy British actress Emily Blunt focused on prenatal Pilates and core exercises, but as she entered the third trimester she favoured hiking in the hills near her Hollywood  home – walking is a great, gentle form of exercise and the UK’s NHS advises a 30-minute walk five times a week for pregnant women.

2. Water baby

Actress Natalie Portman took to water like, well, a duck to water. Swimming is an excellent way to stay healthy during pregnancy – with its gentle workout, there’s no pressure or impact on your joints and it’s perfect for cooling off when the temperatures rise. Fun fact: pregnant women are naturally a few degrees “hotter” than normal women.

3. Groove, baby

Penelope Cruz was reportedly a huge fan of dancing during pregnancy. “I love dancing and ballet and it’s too boring for me to go to the gym to keep fit,” she said. Meanwhile, Avatar actress, Zoe Saldana got creative, mixing dance with boxing moves to up her heart rate.

4. Namaste, mama

The gentle and calming effects of yoga have many celeb mum fans, including Hilary Duff, and actresses Debra Messing, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Shilpa Shetty. Why is it great? Besides the breathing and relaxing benefits, yoga is known to calm the mind and body, which is essential when you’re on your pregnancy journey. It’s a fantastic form of stress relief.

5. Kick butt

If you follow her on Twitter, you already know that model, Chrissy Teigen is hilarious. And if you follow her on Instagram, you know the girl loves her food. So, when she was pregnant, she made sure to stay on the move. Specifically, she focused on overall strength, doing pony kicks (the leg kicks out directly behind you), arm exercises and balancing poses. Her trainer, Simone De La Rue was quoted in an interview: “You need to have strong arms because you’re going to be lifting the baby so we used resistance bands and did bicep and tricep curls. We used weights to do flies and overhead presses, really working on strengthening the shoulders and chest as well so that she’s ready to hold the baby.”

Fits and starts

If you’re starting from zero, there are simpler ways to get into move mode

  • Walking is the simplest way to get started. Invest in a good pair of walking shoes with a thick sole that will cushion the impact of walking. Stay hydrated and aim for at least 30 minutes a day. Walking is a great cardio exercise and it’s just so easy that it doesn’t even feel like work.
  • Cycling is another great, fun easy workout and helps to get your heart rate up. Listen to some music, or if you have a stationary bike, prop it in front of the TV and catch up on the soaps. You won’t even notice that you’re getting in a hardcore session of exercise. Always wear your helmet!
  • Stretch early and often. Keep your body supple and flexible with regular stretches. Stretches after a long walk will feel marvellous and help prevent cramps and muscle strain.

Most importantly:

Always clear it with your doctor before you go ahead with your fitness regime. Some pregnancies are higher risk than others, so get the official nod first

Warning signs you need to stop!

  •  Extreme fatigue
  •  Shortness of breath
  •  Dizziness
  •  Vaginal  contractions

Good to know:

1. Loads of pregnant  women complain of back pain during pregnancy – it’s only natural thanks to the extra load. Try to find a workout that focuses on strengthening your back muscles.

2. Post-baby, you’re probably going to be stressing about your abdominal muscles. Bear in mind that your tummy has taken a major beating, and as such, you will need to find exercises that “knit” the muscles back together.

3. Don’t think of post-baby fitness as a chore. Look for simple, productive ways to get your fitness on. Time for baby to nap? Walk around as you nod him off. Use stroller exercises as a great way to get moving also.

4. Sleep is an absolute essential for a healthy, happy pregnancy. Your growing bump may make it quite difficult to feel comfortable so make a conscious effort to get as much sleep as you can, when you can. Try to sleep on your left side, which increases blood flow and nutrients to the baby. 

Staying safe while staying fit

Zoe Cresswell is a midwife, personal trainer, triathlete and mum. here she shares her tips on how to stay fit while pregnant

While the majority of women are safe to exercise during pregnancy, they should still seek consent from their doctor.

The benefits

The benefits of exercising during pregnancy include: Better posture, Easier labour, Improved mood, Increased energy, Better sleep, Less weight gain, Reduced symptoms of pregnancy such as constipation, More confidence and body image

Staying safe

A general rule to ensure a pregnant woman isn’t working too hard while exercising is that she is able to hold a conversation while working out – which is not a problem for most! While social media has really helped to break the taboo of exercising during pregnancy, there are many inappropriate videos and pictures, which can be confusing for a woman in terms of what is and isn’t safe.

It is therefore essential that a woman seeks advice and guidance from a trained professional to ensure she is working her body safely. Most risks of exercising during pregnancy are actually for the mother and not the baby. Exercise should focus on safely maintaining cardiovascular fitness while balancing postural changes and working the core and pelvic floor.

A very general list of advice would include: drink plenty of water, wear a supportive bra, stop all typical abdominal exercises, avoid high-impact intense movements, do not overheat, don’t stretch too deeply and listen to your body. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. And if you’re too tired, stop.

Most of all, have fun

Women who safely exercise during their pregnancy will find they bounce back to their pre-pregnancy self much faster. Those women who exercise during their pregnancy are more likely to continue to workout after their baby is born. So children grow up seeing exercise and a healthy lifestyle as a normal part of everyday family life. What a great gift.

Follow Zoe on Instagram @fitmum_dxb

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