prenatal and postnatal fitness

Exercise during pregnancy in the COVID-19 pandemic

The winter season is upon us in Ottawa-Gatineau and with the continuing pandemic, many people are wondering how they are going to exercise during pregnancy (not to mention stay sane) throughout the long winter months. Getting outside can be a challenge while you are pregnant. While Gatineau Park is always open for some activity, the cold isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and it can be dangerous if you find yourself unexpectedly on an icy surface. And even if gyms are open in some regions, many people don’t think it is worth the risk or hassle with the many restrictions in place. 

So if you want to stay home during this time, what can you do for pregnancy exercises?

The first thing is to always check with your care provider before embarking on any type of exercise while pregnant, particularly if it is something new for you. The good news is that if you are having a low-risk and uncomplicated pregnancy, exercise is not only possible for you to continue with some modifications but it has so many benefits like improved overall health, better sleep and a better mood. There is also increased blood flow to the placenta which will help with growth and development for your baby. Staying active in each stage of your pregnancy also helps prepare your body for the stamina and strength required for childbirth and can help ease your body back into fitness postnatally.

During the pandemic, it’s important that you set goals. Try making a weekly schedule and plan out when you are going to do your activity. You can aim for 30 minutes every day and it doesn’t always have to be at one time. Use a Fitbit or step counter so that you can keep track of your activity and steps during the day. Set reminders or challenge a friend to stay active and keep each other accountable. 

Here are some ways to get in some low impact cardio exercise during pregnancy at home:

  • Go up and down stairs for 5 minutes a few times a day
  • Incorporate squats, lunges or arm raises into chores like sweeping, laundry vacuuming and dusting
  • While preparing a meal, use the countertop to do some squats, leg raises or inclined pushups
  • If you have other children, create games that incorporate some activity for yourself (mini obstacle course, stretches, storytime with movements)
  • If you have equipment use your treadmill or indoor exercise bike
  • Do laps in the largest part of your home
  • Have an exercise ball or mat in front of your TV so that it reminds you to use some of that time to stretch, do some cardio or some light strength training
  • Go on youtube to find some pregnancy-specific workouts
  • Work with a prenatal fitness trainer (that’s me) virtually or in your home when there are fewer restrictions to help with a personalized plan and to keep you on track


Things to avoid for exercise during pregnancy:

  • Dehydration
  • Overheating
  • Lying on your back after 16 weeks
  • Strain on your abdomen (like a plank on the floor)
  • Breast pain (wear a supportive sports bra!)
  • Dizziness, bleeding, pain
  • Overexertion or not being able to talk while you exercise
  • Losing your balance (your centre of gravity has likely changed as your bump has grown)

Wishing you a healthy, happy and strong pregnancy!