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Chelsea at Crunch Gym

Forty Weeks of Fitness!

Chelsea, our pregnancy fitness expert, is a certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in San Francisco, California. She gave birth to her daughter, Madeira Re, in July 2006. Read more

Prenatal Water Workouts

If you are searching for a safe, low-impact exercise program you can follow all nine months, you might try heading to your local swimming pool. Swimming, water jogging, and aqua aerobics are some of the best exercises to perform while pregnant, and many gyms and pools now offer a variety of classes such as basic aerobics, water boxing, and aqua step.

Exercising in water is ideal for pregnant women because the water's buoyancy requires you to support only 50 percent of your body weight, it reduces the risk of stress-related injuries, and the compression of the water is soothing on joints and muscles that are stressed by the added bulk of your pregnancy. The water's temperature also keeps you from overheating during your workout.

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.

Water workouts generally fall into two categories: aqua aerobics and aqua exercise. 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. Aqua exercise focuses on improving muscle tone, strength and mobility. Water naturally lends itself to strength training, as it provides resistance in all directions, as opposed to land exercises which can be limited by gravity. If you aren't sure which type of class is right for you, ask your gym or community pool if you can watch a class first.

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.

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