Cardio workouts are a necessary element in any workout regimen, especially during your third trimester! Let’s talk about how you can implement cardio workouts safely into your prenatal fitness.
Benefits of Cardio
What does “cardio” mean to you? Do you think of going for a jog or a bike ride? Maybe you picture sweaty workouts with lots of heavy breathing and a poounding heart. Cardio workouts can vary greatly, but they all have one thing in common, they use and improve the aerobic energy system. To give you a brief breakdown, we have three kinds of energy systems, phosphagen, anaerobic, and aerobic. The aerobic system is the only one of the three that uses oxygen in order to produce energy. This system is dominant in longer bouts of exercise of lower intesity when the immediate sources of energy have been used up.
Why do you care? Because it’s your biology, duh! I know we don’t usually care to get into the depths of things, just tell you what to do to get x results. But I want you to understand why. Our bodies mostly run on aerobic energy. We do not sprint and powerlift our way through life, right? We walk and move at an intesity that allows us to “work” through the entire day. So we want our aerobic energy system to perform the best that it can to provide us with sustained energy throughout our workouts and throughout our day.
The best way to improve the aerobic system is to do cardio. Cardio refers to exercise that gets the heart pumping so the cardiovascular system can increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles. Remember when I said that the aerobic system relies on oxygen to produce energy? It is all coming together now! Basically, the more conditioned our cardiovascular system is, the more efficient our aerobic system becomes! But it is still a circular process because the energy provided by the aerobic system is used to supply you in your cardio workouts, get it?
Cardio In The Third Trimester
So why should we care about cardio so much in regards to the third trimester? Well, I don’t know about you, but I felt like breathing became a chore once my belly grew. There was less space in my already short torso for my lungs to expand and I felt out of breath in my day to day activites. Sometimes even just sitting, phew! It motivated me to make cardio a priority so that I could be as comfortable as possible.
I couldn’t increase my chest cavity, but I COULD make my body work better. Not to mention, with an increase in blood volume, comes an increase in need of a higher oxygen supply for mom and baby. Even though the idea of doing a cardio workout sounded tiring, it was easy to get motivated because of the benefits it offered. So remember your “why” when you find yourself trying to avoid exercise. Your body and baby are counting on you!
The Best Methods of Cardio In the 3rd Trimester
As my belly grew I came to find that my mobility was limited, of course, and that I got out breath even faster. It did not take much for me to feel like my heart rate picked up and my body was working hard to fill those lungs. This created a challenge. What movements were going to allow me workout out comfortably enough to remain at a proper intesity for an extended period of time?
I needed to adjust my cardio methods to fit my body’s capabilities and my lung capacity. I found that the larger and heavier I got, the less safe and comfortable impact exercises had become. And weights made me out of breath even faster. So I recommend you stick to the basics, keep it simple! Walking, swimming, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and bodyweight workouts are the way to go. They allow you to control your breath and keep your lungs open. All are also very pregnancy safe options.
Keep It Safe
Safety is of course a top priority as expecting moms. We want to keep our bodies safe and our babies safe. This requires protecting our joints and monitoring our intesity. The methods I offered above allow you to keep the impact low to non-existent and are easily adaptable. You can simply adjust intensity, such as pace, while you are working out by using the talk test. Try to say a few sentances or just maintain a pace that you can hold a conversation at.
No gym? No problem!
The outdoors are great way to clear your mind while getting in your fitness. But if the weather stinks and you dont have access to gym equipment I can still help you get that cardio workout in from the comfort of your home! You won’t need any equipement, just some space to move!
Check out my youtube channel for more workouts!