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As someone who spends a pretty significant amount of time using treadmills and who is also currently 8 months pregnant, I’m really excited to bring you my treadmill workout tips for pregnancy. Although this is targeted more towards moms-to-be like me, many of these tips are good things to consider and do when using your treadmill, whether you’re pregnant or not.
A treadmill is a great piece of equipment to help you stay in shape. As long as you have clearance from your doctor, staying active during pregnancy also has a lot of benefits. Not only can physical activity, like using a treadmill help to relieve pain and can help with your delivery, it can improve your overall mood and energy, as well as help strengthen your cardiovascular system and overall fitness, and even your baby’s.
Of course, pregnancy is different for everyone so consult with your doctor before using a treadmill to make sure working out and staying active is right for you.
Now, let’s get into my 9 treadmill workout tips for pregnancy. And, if you’re in the market for a treadmill, check out our list of the best treadmills for home use.
1. Use Your Treadmill’s Safety Key
This isn’t just something that we encourage you to do while pregnant. Pretty much every treadmill has a safety key that you can clip to your clothing so if you were to fall, the key would be pulled from the treadmill which shuts off the belt, immediately. There is a risk of getting injured and falling when using a treadmill. This risk can also be a little more heightened during pregnancy since as our bodies grow, our center of balance shifts which can make us more prone to being a little less steady on our feet.
Utilizing your treadmill’s safety key is a great way to help prevent injury or further injury if you were to trip or fall and it can help give you some peace of mind. I know as I’ve progressed through my pregnancy, I’ve become increasingly aware of getting hurt and falling, not only on treadmills but walking, especially while using stairs. Just like the stairs, treadmills also have handles to hang on to when needed, so don’t be afraid to grab them for balance, too. You might find you need to hold them a little more than you normally did before becoming pregnant.
As long as using a treadmill is appropriate for you while pregnant, the risks that come with using a treadmill shouldn’t deter you from using one. Most things in life come with some sort of risk, it’s just important to be aware and use caution when needed.
2. Listen To Your Body
This is another tip I have when working out for everyone, not just during pregnancy. Although, you’ll especially want to pay attention to how you’re feeling and how hard you’re working while using a treadmill while pregnant. During pregnancy isn’t the right time to go all-out and push your body to its max. I certainly wouldn’t push yourself past what you were capable of doing before pregnancy.
For me personally, I’ve had to dial it back, especially as I get further along. I’m also not able to do the same things physically anymore that I could do before, like crunches and running. This is where training using RPE (rate of perceived exertion) is a really great tool. RPE allows you to measure your intensity by how you feel while working out. Are you completely out of breath? Is your mind and/or body begging you to stop? Checking in with yourself and listening to your body is a great way to stay active safely while pregnant. It’s also a great way to workout safely on and off a treadmill even if you’re not pregnant.
3. Pick A Pace That Works For You
Picking a pace on your treadmill that works for you is another way of using RPE in your training. You might find that you can’t run as fast as you normally do, or that a walking pace is best in your current state. Again, this probably isn’t the time to go for a PR and it’s certainly not the time to push yourself to a pace you weren’t comfortable doing before pregnancy.
Because you can change the pace of your treadmill if it’s motorized, or adjust the pace by adjusting your speed if it’s a manual treadmill, this makes it easy to find a pace that works for you. Treadmills are also really versatile pieces of fitness equipment. Most motorized treadmills offer maximum speeds of 10-12 mph and adjust by 0.1 mph. This way, you can select a very specific speed and have a lot of speed choices to choose from.
Treadmills are also great for steady-state cardio training and interval training. You might find that a steady jogging pace is best for you, or you can incorporate different walking and/or running speeds with your treadmill workouts.
4. Incline The Deck
If your treadmill has an incline feature, this is another great option to incorporate in your treadmill workouts. Walking at an incline has benefits like strengthening your posterior leg muscles as well as your cardiovascular endurance. Adding a slight incline to your treadmill’s deck might be a great option if you want a more intense workout from walking on a flat surface.
Walking at an incline is harder than it looks! Even adding a little bit of a grade can offer enough of a challenge to help keep you in shape. As with your speed though, you want to make sure the incline level you adjust your treadmill to, is appropriate for you. Even though the NordicTrack X22i Incline Treadmill is my favorite treadmill and I love the 40% max incline range, I’m not able to use the treadmill at this range, currently in my pregnancy.
5. Warm-up And Cool-Down
As with any physical activity, it’s important to warm up and cool down. If you’re going to go for a run on your treadmill, you want to make sure your body and muscles are warmed up beforehand and ready to go. Warming up and cooling down is also great for helping to prevent injury, whether you’re pregnant or not.
For your warm-up and cool-down you want to do things that work for you. Dynamic movements and stretches (performing active movements and active stretching) are best for warm-ups while static stretches (where you hold the same position for a period of time) are best for cool-downs. You can use your treadmill for warming up and cooling down.
I prefer to warm up and cool down on and off the treadmill, personally. I like to do different dynamic squats and stretches before hopping on the treadmill and then following those up with walking on the deck before increasing my pace for my warm-ups. For my cool-downs, I like to walk and slow my heart rate and pace down before hopping off and following that up with various stretches like butterflies and figure-4s. This is also fairly close to my warm-up and cool-down routine before getting pregnant. As always, do what movements and stretches work best for you, here.
You’re probably thinking, “Duh, Sydney”. But I’m serious. It’s fairly common to hold your breath or forget to breathe while working out, especially during certain exercises. This isn’t good for anyone to do, let alone someone who is pregnant. Obviously, if you’re swimming and going underwater, you should hold your breath, but it’s important to make sure you’re breathing while using your treadmill.
Checking in with your breath is another way to gauge your intensity level to make sure you aren’t overdoing it, too. Trying to talk while using your treadmill is a good way to see how your breath is doing. Working yourself to the point that you’re gasping for air, isn’t my recommendation while pregnant. Checking in to make sure you can still talk or at least say a few phrases is a good way to make sure your breathing rate isn’t getting too high.
I also really like to practice diaphragmatic breathing, or abdominal breathing while walking. This is where you inhale focusing on filling your belly and then during the exhale you push the air out while you lift from your lower abdominals, like you do to engage your core. Belly-breathing or 360 breathing is a great way to work your core while pregnant which helps strengthen your back and can help with stress. Diaphragmatic breathing is something I practiced before pregnancy and will continue to do after giving birth.
You want to concentrate on your breathing and your core engagement while doing this, so you might need to dial down your walking speed on your treadmill and/or just incorporate this into your warm-ups and/or cool-downs.
I know, another obvious tip, but hey, staying hydrated is important! You’re growing a human or maybe multiple humans, which is a lot on the body, and water is the most vital nutrient. Staying hydrated is important for everyone, not just those who are pregnant, too. Our bodies are made up of about 60% water and when you’re using a treadmill, you lose water through sweat and breathing. Most treadmills have cupholders to hold your water bottle so you can keep it nearby. If not, make sure you have some water nearby for regular water breaks.
Dehydration is also very common during pregnancy and can harm you and your baby, so drink up!
8. Use Your Treadmill’s Fan Or Your Own
When working out while pregnant, you want to make sure you don’t get overheated. Raising your core body temperature too high during pregnancy can pose risks for your baby. Just as you would want to take it easy on a really hot day outside, you want to make sure you take it easier on your treadmill by keeping yourself cool. Many treadmills come with built-in fans that blow air on you while using them. Of course, certain brands and models have more powerful fans than others. If your treadmill’s fan is a bit weak, you’ll want to plug in your own. Helping manage your body temperature and how much you’re sweating is another helpful way to make sure you aren’t over-exerting yourself while on your treadmill, too.
9. Optional: Wear A Belly Band
Okay, this is completely optional, but it’s something that has significantly helped me so I want to share it with you. Wearing a belly band has allowed me to walk, move, and just live more comfortably since I started showing. I’ve been having some pressure in my lower abdominal area and pelvis at different times throughout the day, so I’ve found that wearing a belly band helps with this and takes off a lot of the added stress on my lower back. As I continue to grow, I like having extra support for my bump. I especially find this helpful when I’m exercising and using a treadmill.
I got this one on Amazon, and highly recommend it.
Best Treadmills For Pregnancy
Now, that you’re ready to get using a treadmill during your pregnancy, you might be wondering what is the best treadmill for pregnancy?
Some of my favorite treadmills to use while pregnant are also many of the models that we recommend to most people. I especially love NordicTrack Treadmills like the NordicTrack 2450 and 1750, as well as the X22i. These treadmills have soft deck cushioning that makes them more comfortable to walk and run on, especially as I’m getting more discomfort in my lower legs and joints throughout my pregnancy. The 2450 and 1750 also have great front and side handles that make them easier to grab when I need extra help with my balance.
Sole Treadmills such as the Sole F63, F80, and F85 are other models to consider. They have really accessible handles, too. The deck cushioning is firmer underfoot, which hasn’t been so great for me due to my joint pain but it’s helpful if you’re a runner who wants a treadmill to train on at home.
A manual treadmill is also an excellent option. This type of treadmill has a curved, manual belt that you control the pace of. These treadmills don’t include safety keys since they don’t have motors that move the belt. You move the belt which can help you stay more in control. Some of my favorites are the AssaultRunner Pro and TrueForm Trainer. If you’re new to using a manual treadmill though, just keep in mind that they can take some getting used to, so take it slow and use the handles when you need to.
I could go on about treadmill recommendations, but I won’t keep you here all day! Check out our full list of the best treadmills on the market and the best manual treadmills, if you’re looking for a treadmill to use during your pregnancy.
Wishing you the best during your pregnancy!