Fitness During Pregnancy

By Antigone Cook

SPLASH! Ahhhh… Feeling less like a bulky washing machine and more like a gazelle the moment you enter the warm water.

Let’s face it, pregnancy can wear you out! The weight of your newly expanding belly pulls on your back muscles and the extra pounds make your feet ache. Even the thought of exercising makes you tired.

The good news is there are simple water exercises that can reap big rewards, both mentally and physically. Plus being in the water when you are pregnant just feels good!


Mentally: A water workout de-stresses you, encouraging moment-to-moment focus as you feel your arms and legs press through the liquid resistance. The water, especially if it’s warm, seems to have a soothing effect on your entire system. A big mental sigh, if you will!

Physically: Since water gives you up to 12 times the amount of resistance as land-based moves, you get more toning power for each movement. Specific benefits include:
Develop cardiovascular conditioning if you sustain the movements for 20-30 minutes (see the sample workout plan below)

  • Improve your breathing technique, which you will use in labor
  • Reduce ankle swelling
  • Take the pressure off your bladder
  • Reduce strain in your back muscles

The following is a great, quick workout that I found helpful during both my pregnancies. This routine can also be used for your “get back in shape after the baby” workout!

  1. Find a pool where your feet don’t touch the bottom.
  2. Strap the Aquajogger around your waistline (scoot the belt buckle below your belly button as your belly grows).
  3. Rotate through the following moves 3-5 minutes at a time. Repeat at least 2 times through.
  • Cross-Country Ski. In an upright position, keeping your arms and legs straight, pretend you are cross-country skiing. Keep your spine long and your bottom tucked slightly under. The faster you go, the more resistance you get.
  • Jumping Jacks. Start in a big “T” position with your legs together and arms out. As the legs “jump” out, the arms press to your sides. You will know if you have the arm and leg rhythm incorrect because you will “bounce” up and down in the water. Ideally you should stay at shoulder level at all times.
  • Jogging. This one gives you a great, natural-feeling workout. Just jog forward at a brisk pace, then, try jogging backwards. You can use your hands to help propel you.

This workout was my own personal bliss. It was a quiet yet productive time I would use to get my body and mind in shape for that most special athletic event – labor!

Good luck and enjoy!

Contributed by Antigone Cook of Life Integrated Fitness. She is a 25-year veteran instructor of water exercise, Pilates, and walking workouts. Antigone utilized water exercise in the pre and post natal programs of two pregnancies. Check out her website for guided Walking, Pilates and Healthy Back workouts you can do in your home or take with you while you travel. http://www.lifeintegratedfitness.com

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