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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.)
“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.”
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.
“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.”