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The program There are 3 components to this water workout: shallow-water moves, deep-water moves and swimming. You can incorporate all the components in your weekly routine, parts of each or just stick to one. If you’re really fit, you can combine all 3 workouts into a 1-hour program, 3–4 times per week. For a sample weekly guide, see chart below.
As your pregnancy progresses, adapt your routine to what feels good to you. If you haven’t been exercising, start slowly in whichever program you choose. Stay at a low intensity until you feel stronger, then exercise at varying levels of intensity during the week, or add an additional workout session for a greater challenge.
The pool Use a pool with a comfortable temperature: 85–87 degrees is perfect; below 83 degrees is considered cool.
Warm-up Begin with at least 5 minutes of shallow-water walking. As you walk, limber up with shoulder shrugs, ankle and hip circles, head rolls, arm reaches and knee lifts. (If you prefer, you can tread water in the deep end or hold on to the edge of the pool and kick.)
Visualization As you warm up, visualize your body being relaxed and strong, your baby healthy. Even if you’ve never been through labor, imagine what it will be like in a positive way. For example, picture labor as an athletic event at which you will be successful, accomplishing your goal with little pain. As you do each exercise, focus on your breathing, expanding your belly slightly as you inhale and tightening your abdominals as you exhale, doing a Kegel at the same time if you wish.
Cool-down If the water is warm, complete your cool-down in the pool, stretching thighs, calves and back. Hold each stretch 20–30 seconds. If the water is cold, you may want to move through each stretch without holding it too long, or stretch out of the water.
Stand in chest-deep water to do these moves. Be sure to wear water shoes or Aquasocks to keep from slipping on the bottom of the pool. If you’re doing only this workout, spend 20–30 minutes on the routine, 3–6 days per week. Because of the water’s buoyancy, you may be able to continue water walking or running all the way through your pregnancy. Do the exercises in the order listed without stopping.
1. Shallow–water walking or running Use a normal stride as you walk or run forward and backward across the pool. For variety, walk on heels or toes, do grapevine steps or step sideways. Keep moving for 5 minutes.