Jill Kinney, 32, of Portland, Ore., took up some new activities during her pregnancy. These included Pilates, which her doctor suggested because it's low impact and safe when led by a knowledgeable instructor (Kinney's teacher modified her sessions with a special "pregnancy seat" and pregnancy-safe moves). "I'd always wanted to try Pilates, so my doctor's recommendation was the push I needed to actually do it," says Kinney, mother of 9-month-old Aidan. She also hiked, took dance classes and aqua jogged. "Pregnancy is a great time to explore new ways to exercise, because it forces you to think differently about your fitness goals," she says.
If you start out totally unfit, it can be safe to gradually increase your strength and fitness during pregnancy. But if you are already fit before pregnancy, your goal during these nine months should be to maintain your fitness and strength while avoiding strain or injury. "Even the most conditioned pregnant woman should not jump into something new at high gear," Downs advises. "However, trying a variety of moderate-intensity activities like yoga and walking may be fun and also can help you meet other pregnant women."