Enjoy a Healthy and Fit Pregnancy

I am 22 weeks pregnant and looking for some exercise that I can do.  Thanks,  Robin

Dear Robin,

There is no need to be fearful of exercise during pregnancy! With your doctor’s go ahead, maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout your pregnancy can help you stay healthy and feel great. It can relieve nausea, body aches and pains especially common backaches, reduce swelling of the legs and feet, reduce stress and fatigue, increase stamina and energy and help you sleep. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, even everyday unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication. If you have not been exercising prior to your pregnancy be sure to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.  Walking, light weight training and water exercise are suggested modes of fitness during pregnancy due to the low stress placed on the mom and fetus. Water aerobics, swimming and H2O calisthenic style exercises are particularly encouraged in the later stages of pregnancy when additional weight can cause common discomfort during walking or jogging.

Why Water Exercises?

Let’s talk a little more about swimming and water exercise – my favorite choice for fitness during my pregnancies! 
Exercising in water is just apt for pregnant women since the water’s buoyancy requires the support of only 50 percent of ones body weight.  This was always a soothing and welcomed relief  for me. Besides, it reduces the risk of stress-related injuries and the density of the water is comforting on joints and muscles, which get stressed by the added weight of your pregnancy. The water’s temperature also keeps you from overheating during the workout.

Even if you’re unable to swim, you can do water exercises as most of the moves are performed in waist or chest-high water. Simple swimming laps, walking, jogging, or running in water, will strengthen your core trunk muscles, legs and hips, increasing your cardio-respiratory fitness. For these exercises, there is no need to have any special equipment; however you can use flippers, foam tubes, webbed gloves, and water weights to enhance the moves.

Water Workouts
Water workouts typically are divided into two categories: aqua aerobics and aqua exercise. Aqua aerobics comprise of many fat-burning and endurance-building qualities of land-based aerobics, with no high-impact pounding that can be dangerous while pregnant. Aqua exercise concentrates on improving muscle tone, strength and mobility. For a perfect 30-minute workout, do aerobic activity with strengthening moves.

After a warm up of 5 minutes which usually include swimming a few laps or walking back and forth across the pool; alternate high-intensity walking or jogging with low-intensity recovery periods. The duration of each interval depends on your fitness level; you can begin with 15 seconds. Then you are ready to perform strengthening moves. Alternate another aerobic set and then another strengthening move, continuing the same for 30 minutes. Now cool down for 5 minutes by swimming some laps or walking around the pool. Make sure to do some gentle stretching.

Note: Make sure to drink plenty of water while exercising in the water. Don’t ever jump or dive into the pool. Before starting any kind of exercise during pregnancy, make certain to consult your doctor. Don’t expect to maintain your pre-pregnancy swiftness, and stop immediately when you feel tired, experience dizziness, headache, or cramping.

Walking, swimming, water aerobics and light weight training on a big ball are perfect exercises for a healthy and fit pregnancy. To keep your weekly workouts fun and interesting try mixing up your fitness routine – walking 30 minutes one day, swimming the next and so on. Check out these websites for pregnancy and exercise dvd’s to use at home: www.FitMom2B.com and www.fitnessbeginnings.com.  Remember to check with your doctor before starting your fitness program. Best of luck to you!  Allison

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