Shana Verstegen by Shana Verstegen
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In part 1 of this two-part series, prenatal precautions and specific exercises to counteract some of the common physical issues of pregnancy were presented. This second and final installment covers recommendations for cardio and the importance of social support. 

Prenatal Cardiovascular Fitness

What is comfortable during pregnancy varies from mother to mother. Water fitness is my personal favorite. Getting in the pool eases the aches and pains that come with increased weight and a shifted center of gravity. Exercises in these classes are also easily modified based on the amount of energy you have on any given day. 

Other great cardiovascular options include:

Walking

Being a runner most of my life, I had to embrace the fact that walking can actually be a wonderful workout. If your client needs more of a challenge, encourage her add some hills to her route.

Group Indoor Cycling

Body weight does not play a major factor in this type of workout, which makes it a good option for those who want to continue exercising throughout the duration of their pregnancy. Others, however, may find the seat and positioning a little uncomfortable. 

Swimming

Floating in the water can give the pregnant exerciser a sense of relief and freedom. If your client’s low back feels at all strained while swimming, recommend adding a pull buoy between the ankles to help keep the body aligned. 

Cardiovascular Machines

The elliptical, stationary bike, Stairmaster and treadmill are all great options, particularly because they offer less impact on the body than other forms of cardiovascular exercise.   

Mind/Body

I cannot emphasize the importance of taking a prenatal yoga and/or meditation class during pregnancy. These classes can provide the expecting mother with many exercise options to alleviate pain and can help her become more comfortable with her changing body. Plus, the relaxation techniques will come in handy during labor and throughout stressful new-mom moments. 

Putting it All Together

During pregnancy, a woman should aim for a minimum of three, 30- to 60-minute workouts per week, featuring a combination of cardiovascular fitness, strength training and mind/body exercise. 

The Importance of Social Support

I love spending time chatting with other pregnant women, whether it is complaining about the latest pregnancy symptom, or reviewing which jogging stroller we like the best. Most communities have prenatal exercise classes, including prenatal water fitness, and prenatal yoga. Encourage your pregnant clients to sign up for at least one of these classes as a way to get some exercise and meet other women going through the same life-changing experience. On top of all of the support, many playgroups and lifelong friendships are formed in these classes.

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