Choose The Best Workout For Your Mood

5 moods and the best workouts to suit each one. Why miss out on exercise today?


Raise your hand if your mood swings have seemed as unpredictable as the stock market throughout your pregnancy. (And if you didn't put your hand in the air, we bet your partner would raise his for you!)

It can be hard enough for anyone to find the motivation to exercise when they're not in a good mood, let alone when you're exhausted and lugging extra pounds around on your frame. We talked to industry experts to help you find the best workout for the mood you're in right now so you can start feeling those post-workout endorphins as soon as possible.

"Exercise helps with how a woman feels during her pregnancy, and data has shown that just one bout of a 30-minute exercise can improve your mood," says Catherine Cram, MS, co-author of the book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy (Addicus Books). "Keep your workout between a level that feels moderate to somewhat hard. You shouldn't be working out so hard that you're out of breath or can't carry on a conversation. But your workout should be hard enough that it feels challenging."

Here, five common temperaments you'll likely experience throughout your pregnancy and the best workout for that state of mind. (Remember to always check with your doctor before starting any workout program to determine if it's safe for you and your baby.)

See more: Exercise guidelines for pregnant women

1. When You're Feeling Stressed

"Do modified-interval work," says Cram. Break up a 30-minute walk into an 8-minute warm-up, then 30 seconds of fast walking, followed by a few minutes of walking at your regular pace. Do this several times throughout your workout. "You're training your body to push slightly higher than normal, which helps dispel some of those stress hormones, release endorphins, and improve your mood."

See more: A trimester-by-trimester walking workout

Try this with running (if you're already a runner), bicycling, or even while using an exercise DVD. Cram suggests starting out the first few times with three interval sessions, and, over several weeks, increasing to four or five times throughout your workout.

See more: One of these DVDs is perfect for you

"When you're crazed, do prenatal Pilates or prenatal yoga," says Kristin McGee, a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor who is currently pregnant. "Both are mind and body forms of exercise and they will help you focus, de-stress, and connect with your breath and your baby."

See more: Safe yoga poses for pregnant women

2. When You're Feeling Anxious

Need to burn off steam? Try strength training, advises Cram. "Use your own body weight as resistance or incorporate resistance bands."

See more: Safe weight lifting techniques

McGee suggests taking a dance class, like prenatal Zumba, or a spin class (if you're already accustomed to spinning) when worries seem overwhelming. "The music and atmosphere will calm your nerves and the movement will blow off steam and anxiety. You'll have so much fun, you'll forget you were anxious!"

See more: Prenatal classes to try

3. When You're Feeling Social

Want to burn calories and have a gabfest with your friend? This is the perfect time to do it!

"My favorite exercises for pregnancy are ones that are social because having a buddy can improve compliancy about 90 percent," says Cram.

She recommends stroller walking with your friend if you have little ones and taking your walk indoors to the mall when the weather is bad. Break up your buddy walk with stretching and toning exercises like those found on FitDeck's Prenatal Exercise cards ($14.95,

4. When You're Exhausted

If you're tired and don't feel like exercising, just do what appeals to you the most in that moment, says Cram. That might be stretching, a short walk, breathing exercises, or even a relaxing yoga DVD. "Do something very gentle that feels like caretaking to help you feel rejuvenated. It should be an activity that makes you feel good."

She also recommends swimming for when you're feeling very tired, especially in your third trimester. "The hydrostatic pressure helps with swelling, takes pressure off the joints, and it can feel almost spa-like!"

See more: Pool workout moves >>

5. When You're In A Great Mood

"If you're feeling happy and want a fun experience, take a tennis lesson or go for a bike ride. Doing something that engages all of your senses...will make you feel confident and enjoy the fun, happy mood you're in," says McGee. "This is the perfect time to shake up your routine and try something new! Experiment with a new piece of equipment, try trail walking, or swap your walk for a bike ride," says Cram. "You're in a positive state of mind and it can make a difference in how you perceive a new activity."

See more: Get outside for a healthier pregnancy