Whether you were a spin class dynamo or an occasional walker before you got knocked up, working out now that you're pregnant is a must-do (sorry, couch potatoes!). "Exercise during pregnancy improves your mood, helps control weight gain and may help prevent gestational diabetes," says Melissa J. Hague, MD, a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita. Need more motivation? Exercise can make labor and delivery easier; help your body bounce back faster after giving birth; and may even mean a healthier heart for your baby, according to one small study.
Overall, most exercise is safe for most pregnant women (in fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pregnant women exercise for at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week!), but check in with your ob-gyn or midwife before you begin. And skip any activity with a high risk of falling (downhill skiing, water skiing and gymnastics, to name a few -- not that you feel like doing somersaults); contact sports; and scuba diving. You should also stop exercising and call your doc if you experience vaginal bleeding, dizziness, feeling faint, increased shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, muscle weakness, calf pain or swelling, uterine contractions, decreased fetal movement or fluid leaking from your vagina. But you probably could have guessed that.
So what's the best way to exercise while expecting? Check out these 14 fun -- and safe -- ways for moms-to-be to get moving.