Stay Fit and Healthy During Pregnancy

Other low-impact aerobic activity that will not jeopardizing your pregnancy includea cycling on a stationary bike. The non-weight-bearing nature of this activity makes it easy to sustain throughout pregnancy, and it is not as difficult to take up for the first time as swimming is. It may become more difficult later in pregnancy, though, as your growing belly may make sitting in a cycling position uncomfortable.

Brisk walking can increase blood flow, improve circulation and curb unhealthy food cravings. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and walk on flat, even terrain (hiking can be dangerous, especially at high altitudes).

Light weight training is an effective way to maintain or develop muscle tone, but should be monitored by your physician and/or an experienced trainer. Weights more than 20 pounds can cause you to hold your breath during repetitions, which may prevent blood flow to the uterus.

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Strength training with elastic bands is also a great way to tone arms, and its tension-as-resistance way of working your muscle groups is less likely to cause strains or injuries than conventional weight training.

The yoga craze has trickled into pre-natal care as well. With an emphasis on breathing, relaxation and posture, it is an obvious choice for expectant women who want to stay fit. Today, yoga classes designed especially for pregnant women can be found throughout most hospital programs or fitness centers. Inquire with your physician about options in your area.

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Otherwise, The New Method: Baby & Mom Prenatal Yoga led by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, an L.A.-based pregnancy yoga and childbirth expert who has been in the business for 27 years, offers a do-it-at-home alternative for new mothers.

A few definite "donts" when it comes to physical activity during your pregnancy:

  • Skiing
  • Road cycling
  • Waterskiing
  • Scuba diving
  • Horseback riding
  • Rowing and rowing machines
  • Jogging more than two miles a day
  • Diving or jumping into pool
  • Any contact sports that can result in trauma to the fetus
  • Sprinting (such anaerobic training depletes oxygen levels for extended periods of time that can harm an unborn baby)

These are obvious activities to stay away from, though there are some women who continued jogging more than two miles a day with no ill effects.

Again, check with your doctor before attempting anything, including your existing routine prior to discovering that you were pregnant.

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Aerobic exercise increases your ability to produce and utilize oxygen, which is important for both a pregnant woman and her unborn child. It improves circulation, reduces lethargy, increases strength and endurance that can help ease labor, burns calories (allowing you to eat more of the right foods for your unborn baby while avoiding unnecessary weight gain), and better prepares you to "bounce back" after delivery.

Because of this, aerobic exercise is the most beneficial type of fitness program you can enjoy during your pregnancy and swimming is probably the healthiest and most effective way to do so.

Again, before attempting anything to stay fit, consult your prenatal-care specialist and get an informed opinion based on your own personal history and capability. Remember that every pregnancy is as unique as the individual mother who is expecting, thus making general advice difficult.

More: Functional Fitness for New Moms

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