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Walking was the only exercise Corina DuBois of Monterey, Calif., did before getting pregnant. "I've always been intimidated by sports and by the machines at gyms, so I shied away from working out during my first pregnancy," says DuBois, 30, mother of Holden, 2, and Nolan, 6 months. But three months after her first delivery, she discovered Stroller Strides, a mommy-and-child stroller-based walking and toning program. "With Stroller Strides, I found I could be fit without having to be coordinated or competitive," she says. Prior to her second pregnancy, DuBois became a Stroller Strides instructor and ran with Holden in a stroller until her eighth month.
In addition to giving her a healthy body image and a way to reduce stress, exercise helped DuBois manage her gestational diabetes. According to Downs, 5 to 14 percent of women develop this illness during pregnancy--and the majority of cases are caused by behavioral risk factors such as low levels of physical activity or being overweight prepregnancy. "Exercise, however, helps control blood sugar [glucose], lower blood-glucose levels, reverse glucose intolerance, and reduce the need for insulin," says Downs, who recommends that women with modifiable risk factors (i.e., those who are overweight and sedentary) begin working out before conceiving to reduce their odds of developing gestational diabetes. She adds that previously sedentary women should consult with their physician before starting any exercise program.
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Maintenance is Key - Alison Ferguson
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