Pregnancy exercise: Work those legs


Just because you may not see much of your legs anymore (your growing belly is stealing the show) – that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Your legs have an important role to play during pregnancy and also for your new role as a mom. Leg exercises can be vital in tackling some of the niggles of pregnancy.

Ever wondered which part of your body is taking strain from all the extra weight you are carrying? Your back, of course! But strong legs can help alleviate this pain and make movement easier the closer you get to your due date. Toning your legs can also improve circulation, which helps prevent varicose veins and leg cramps – both of which are common ailments of pregnancy.

These exercises will get you into the habit of using your legs, instead of your back, to pick things up. So once you’re a mom you’ll be glad you stuck to this exercise routine, not only for the joy of having one less body part to work on, but also for the ease at which you will be able to pick up your baby, nappy bag and pram.

1. Squat

Stand facing a wall with your legs straight, feet slightly more than hip-width apart and turned slightly out. Place your hands on a wall or other sturdy support, or hold a 2 to 5 kilogram dumbbell in each hand and rest the weights on your shoulders. Keep your weight on your heels and your chest lifted as you bend both knees and lower your body into a squat. Then straighten your legs and rise up onto the balls of your feet. Lower your heels and repeat for 10-15 reps.

Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks and calves.

Alternating heel raises 

Stand next to a wall with your feet slightly farther than hip-width apart, toes and knees turned out to a 45-degree angle. Hold onto the wall for support. Pull in your belly and drop your tail bone. Keeping your back straight and toes turned out, bend both knees, lowering only as far as you can without changing your pelvis position. In this position, lift your right heel until you’re on the ball of your right foot then lower it. Repeat with your left. Straighten both legs and repeat the entire combination. For a challenge, lift both feet at the same time. 10-15 reps.

Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings,buttocks and calves.

Hip extension and curl

Place an ankle weight around your left ankle. Stand facing a wall and place your hands on it for support. Contract your abs so your tail bone points down. Keeping hips square, shift your weight to your right leg; bend your knee slightly. Flexing your left foot, lift your leg behind you without arching your back. Do 10 reps; on the last rep, bend your left knee, bringing your left heel up toward your buttocks in a curl. Switch legs and repeat.

Strengthens buttocks and hamstrings.

Which exercises helped you during pregnancy? Any tips and tricks you'd like to share with our readers? Tell us by emailing to and we may publish your comments.

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