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.
Quick, picture a place where you feel calm and happy. A beach? The mountains?
Most people pick someplace outdoors, even though they spend the great majority of their days inside buildings. Many of them even exercise indoors!
But evidence is mounting that being outside, and especially exercising in a natural environment, improves mental and physical health, says Daphne Miller, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
When it's winter, you have two pregnancy workout options: bundle up to brave the elements, or head indoors. Felice Devine, an avid runner in North Greenbush, N.Y., chose the first option. “I had to prepare more for my pregnant runs, but it was so worth it,” says Devine, who wore a headlamp in the dark and Yaktrax in the snow, and always carried her cellphone.
Strength training is safe and one of the best ways to minimize aches and pains. Weight machines are ideal, especially for gym newbies, because they control your range of motion. "During pregnancy, your joints get looser, and it's easy to move outside of your normal range," says Jeffreys. However, if you're accustomed to doing free-weight exercises, you can continue.
An hour of cardio usually flies by for me at the gym, thanks to my secret motivational strategy: watching "Law & Order" reruns on the club's TV. I hop on the elliptical machine as the opening credits roll, and before I know it, Sam Waterston is finishing his closing argument to the jury. At least, that was the case before I got pregnant.
Between childbirth classes, doctor’s appointments, shopping for baby gear and—oh yeah—a job and other regular life stuff, what mom-to-be has time to exercise? Actually, you do. “Thirty minutes is all you need for an effective workout,” says Susan Hoffman, a trainer and prenatal fitness specialist at Boca Raton Life Time Athletic Club in Boca Raton, Fla.
That ruffled swim cap can stay in grandma’s closet because this water exercise program is anything but old-fashioned. “This is for a person who wants a more challenging aqua workout,” says trainer and fitness educator Sara Kooperman, who developed her nationally known Water in Motion program that incorporates yoga, Pilates and dance moves after she injured her back in a skiing accident.
A tense neck, sore back, twinges in your hips, throbbing feet—when you’re pregnant, aches and pains are just part of the deal, right? Not necessarily. “These problems may be the norm in our population today, but that wasn’t always the case,” says Katy Bowman, M.S., a biomechanist in Ventura, Calif., and creator of the Aligned and Well DVD series. “Pregnant women today suffer more than they did 100 years ago.”