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Are you getting the 30 minutes of daily exercise recommended for most pregnant women? If not, consider walking: It works your entire body, requires no special equipment and is safe for the majority of women from conception through delivery. Not to mention it’ll boost your energy and can help keep nausea at bay.
What’s even better is that you can walk almost anywhere—even in the ocean, a lake or a swimming pool. In fact, as your pregnancy progresses, you may prefer these water walks, as the water’s buoyancy eases pressure on your ankles and lower back and reduces swelling, says Antigone Cook, a prenatal water-fitness and Pilates instructor in Corvallis, Ore. “Water walking requires a bit more advance planning, but it’s worth it to take the load off your feet and legs,” she says.
With your doctor’s permission, follow Cook’s walking programs as shown here, alternating between water and land when possible, up to 5 days a week. And for optimal all-around fitness, combine walking with the strength and flexibility moves.
Strength & flexibility
Do the following moves 3 times a week with a day off in between. Perform 10–15 repetitions of each exercise, starting with 1 set and building up to 3. Warm up by walking or doing 5–10 minutes of marching in place with neck and shoulder rolls.
(1. plié with Kegels) Stand with feet farther than hip-width apart, right hand holding the back of a sturdy chair, left hand on hip, abs contracted. Turn feet and knees out to a comfortable position. Inhale, then exhale as you bend your knees; keep knees over ankles (shown). Straighten legs to starting position and do a Kegel (see pg. 116 for information). Strengthens thighs, buttocks and pelvic-floor muscles.
(2. one-arm dumbbell row) Place right knee and right hand on the seat of a sturdy chair, left foot flat on floor, leg slightly bent. Holding a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in your left hand, contract your abs and let your arm hang directly under your shoulder. Bend left elbow to bring dumbbell to lower ribs (shown). Slowly lower to starting position. Complete reps and switch sides. Strengthens back, rear shoulders and biceps.
(3. seated abs) Sit up straight in a chair with your back firmly against the seat back, arms at sides, hands on chair. Inhale, then exhale as you contract abs, rounding back (shown). Inhale as you return to starting position. Strengthens abdominals.
(4. back stretch) Holding the back of a sturdy chair, stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, toes pointing forward. Inhale, then exhale as you round your spine, tucking your head in slightly, contracting your abs and stretching your back (shown). Inhale and return to starting position. Stretches upper and lower back, strengthens abdominals.