The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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LaRue’s workout uses the water to your advantage. “The magic of the water’s buoyancy makes swimming a safe, refreshing, nonjarring activity,” says World Masters swim champion Jane Katz, Ed.D., author of Water Fitness During Your Pregnancy (Human Kinetics, 1995).
If you’re not a swimmer, now is not the best time to learn, but you can still reap all of swimming’s benefits with water exercises alone — the “dry hair workout.”
As your pregnancy progresses toward its wonderful conclusion, you’ll probably need to adjust your pool routine by decreasing swimming distance and reducing your speed. You’ll also have to give up the butterfly stroke, diving and flip turns. If one stroke (such as freestyle) is uncomfortable, switch to breaststroke, backstroke or sidestroke. Also, do not become fatigued. “After a swim, you should feel energized, not enervated,” says Katz.
Walking Workout Guide
The program You can walk every day, but you should modify your goals and workout as your pregnancy progresses (see last page).
Level You’re a novice if you were not previously active on a regular basis. You’re a regular walker if you were active prior to becoming pregnant.
Pacing An easy pace is like strolling; a moderate pace is more purposeful, but like normal walking; a brisk pace should make you feel like you’re exerting yourself (without overdoing it).
FIRST TRIMESTER Your goal should be to walk every day, as it should help minimize discomfort. Split your workouts (shorter morning and afternoon sessions) if you are experiencing morning sickness and/or fatigue.
SECOND TRIMESTER As you enjoy the strength and power many women feel during this time, alternate long, slow walks with shorter, faster efforts to maintain variety and build fitness. Stay hydrated, and to avoid overheating, plan your walks during the cooler times of the day.
THIRD TRIMESTER Choose a course that can be shortened in case you’re fatigued or experience discomfort. Consider multiple short walks during the day. Stick to familiar routes with well-graded surfaces, and wear your most supportive shoes. Note places you can stop and use a bathroom if necessary.
Water Workout Guide
The program This workout includes water moves combined with swimming. You can do the program 3–5 days a week.
Level You’re LEVEL I if you have exercised minimally prior to pregnancy. You’re LEVEL 2 if you’re exercising regularly and want to maintain your current level of fitness.
Gear For water workouts, wear water shoes with good cushioning and support. For extra breast support, wear a sports bra or triathlete swimsuit bra top under your bathing suit. For jogging/deep-water running, you’ll need a buoyancy belt. When your belly gets large, use a water-jogging belt turned upside-down and worn under your belly, or straddle a large-sized Styrofoam “noodle.”
WATER TEMPERATURE 82–86° F is ideal.
WATER DEPTH All moves except deep-water running are done in chest-deep water.
HYDRATION Drink lots of fluid before entering the pool.
WARM-UP Begin with 2–5 minutes of easy walking. Keep knees soft, and don’t arch your back. Squeeze your buttocks and contract your abs as you step. Pull shoulder blades back and down. Finish warm-up by taking a giant step into a lunge to stretch hamstrings and hip flexors. Hold for 20 seconds; then switch legs.
SWIMMING PACE Vary strokes if you can, swimming at a moderate intensity. (You should be able to speak comfortably after swimming a few laps.) Use a full range of motion with your arms for all strokes. If necessary, use a kickboard and flutter kick.
COOL DOWN Wearing a buoyancy belt, float on your back for 5 minutes with arms overhead. Then repeat the lunge stretch.