The WOMAN Challenge

4.14.08: Start your first Mother's Day off on the right foot


Mother's Day is less than a month away, and for many of you, it'll be the first time you celebrate your own motherhood. Why not mark this special event by doing something positive for you and your baby?

On Sunday, May 11th, thousands of women across the country will kick off the WOMAN Challenge—Women and girls Out Moving Across the Nation—an eight-week physical activity challenge sponsored by the Office on Women's Health, which encourages women to walk 10,000 steps or get 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. The program is free and offers access to a tracking log to record your progress, plus weekly motivational e-mails and health tips to help you reach your personal fitness goals.

Walking is one of the safest and simplest pregnancy exercises. It was not-surprisingly ranked as our readers' favorite way to exercise in a Fit Pregnancy poll. But just because it's simple, it doesn't mean you shouldn't take some precautions: Remember that when you're pregnant, you'll need to monitor the intensity of your walks. During the hardest part of your workout, you should be able to keep up a conversation without gasping for breath, though not with complete ease either (the "talk test"). You also can use the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale: During pregnancy, most of your walks should fall between a 3 (slow walk) and a 7 (fast enough that you couldn't keep it up for more than 30-40 minutes). Here's how to tell what's a safe heart rate and how high you should hike.

Ready to get started? Check out our training tips and our beginner, intermediate and advanced walking workouts.

Happy Trails!

Dana Rousmaniere is Fit's Manging Editor. Her early-morning walks during her two pregnancies required the occasional pit-stop to puke in the bushes.