Exercise Is Essential | Fit Pregnancy

Exercise Is Essential

Cardiovascular exercise benefits pregnant women just as it does anyone else. But the added benefits for pregnant women can also be mental. Here's how you can get moving, stay strong and prepare for labor.

4 great moves

These exercises can be done throughout all three trimesters with minor modifications. Do them four to five times a week to keep your muscles strong and balanced.

1 Squat Hold the back of a chair, feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and lower to a quarter-squat [A]. Straighten to the starting position and repeat 10–15 times; do 2–3 sets. Widen legs and do 1 deeper squat; hold for 30 seconds [B]. After the final rep, drop onto knees to stand up.

2 Bent-over upper-back press Stand behind a chair and hold a 3- or 5-pound dumbbell in your right hand. Bend forward, resting your left forearm on the back of the chair [A]. Pull your right elbow up [B]. Pause, then slowly lower. Do 1 set of 8–12 reps, then switch arms.

3 Chest press Hold a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand; sit on the edge of a chair, place a pillow behind you and lean back. Extend your arms to midchest height [A]. Bend your elbows back until they are in line with your shoulders [B]. Do 10–12 reps, rest 60 seconds, then repeat.

4  Belly breathing Sit on the floor, legs crossed and back against a wall, placing both hands on your belly [A]. Inhale, expanding your belly into your hands, then exhale, pulling your navel in toward your spine [B]. Repeat 16–20 times, rest for 1 minute, then do another set of 16–20 reps.

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