If you’re looking for a fitness regimen that will help you keep fit throughout your pregnancy, consider doing some water aerobics. Being in water will take the weight off your legs and back and you will feel more comfortable working out. Aside from that, aquarobics has been shown to help during labor. According to a study published recently in the journal Reproductive Health, a course of water aerobics classes done by sedentary and low risk pregnant women has been shown to reduce the amount of pain-killing medication women request during labor.
If you are not currently exercising and would like a program you can be comfortable with, an excellent, low-impact program for pregnant women is aqua aerobics or water fitness. Aqua aerobics has most of the fat-burning and endurance-building qualities of land-based aerobics, without the high-impact pounding that can be dangerous while pregnant.
Guidelines when exercising in the pool
- First of all, remember that you sweat, even when you’re in the water, so you need to drink plenty of water before, during and after your workouts. Always keep a water bottle nearby so you can take a good swig every 10 minutes or so.
- Secondly, be sure to wear a bathing suit with a supportive top (or wear a jog bra underneath your swimsuit). You might also want to wear an abdominal support as your pregnancy progresses — as your belly and breasts get larger, they’ll also be more pendulous, and movement through the water can get uncomfortable.
- Thirdly, slow your movements as necessary so that you aren’t exercising to exhaustion. The water offers a lot of resistance, and trying to move your growing body through it can be very tiring!
- If you’re in an outdoor pool, be sure to wear sunscreen and a cap or visor because your skin can become more sun-sensitive during pregnancy.
- For the most benefit, exercise regularly. A good rule of thumb is at least 20 minutes three times a week.
- Begin slowly and increase gradually. This is not only more comfortable, but also safer.
Water exercise is easy and safe, as well as beneficial to all levels from beginner to advanced. You don’t need to be able to swim to participate in water workouts – many moves are performed in waist or chest-high water, and you don’t even need to join a special organized class; simply swimming laps, or walking, jogging, or running in water will strengthen your core, trunk muscles, legs and hips, and increase your cardio-respiratory fitness. While water workouts don’t require any special equipment, there are flippers, foam tubes, webbed gloves, and water weights available that can enhance the moves.
The best way to exercise is to be in water at arm pit level when standing. Recommendations for a good water class include: 1) warm up, 2) exercise and 3) relaxation.
For a great 30-minute workout, alternate aerobic activity with strengthening moves. Warm up for five minutes or so by swimming a few laps or walking back and forth across the pool. Then alternate high-intensity walking or jogging with low-intensity recovery periods. The length of each interval will depend on your fitness level – start with 15 seconds and see how you feel. Repeat this high-low interval for 3 minutes, then perform one of the following strengthening moves. Follow this with another aerobic set and then another strengthening move, continuing this way for 30 minutes. Cool down for five minutes by swimming some laps or walking around the pool, and be sure to do some gentle stretching.
- Stand in the shallow end of the pool facing the stairs. Step up onto the lowest step, and then back down. Repeat 10 times, slowly, leading with your right leg; then 10 times leading with your left leg. Turn sideways so the steps are on your right and step up, leading with your right leg, 10 times. Turn so the steps are on your left and repeat with your left leg. Finally, turn so the steps are behind you and step up backwards 10 times, leading with the right leg and 10 times leading with your left leg. Hold on to the bar or side of the pool for balance if necessary, but don’t pull yourse