My mind was wrought with questions, I stayed up late devouring health and fitness information (as well as an extra scoop of Moose Tracks ice cream, I was eating for two after all).

The smell of a gym is something I can close my eyes and imagine. I hoped it would not be one of those smells that would nauseate me during pregnancy.

Yes, continuing exercising while pregnant, with the OK from your doctor, is recommended. If you did not exercise before pregnancy the most strenuous program you should be involved in is walking. If you have been exercising prior to pregnancy – keep it up! This is not a reason to stop.

You should aim for at least three days a week for 30 minutes or longer. Some great aerobic activities that I enjoyed participating pre-pregnancy and during were walking, stationary bicycling, stair master, aerobics, jogging (this gets tricky in the third trimester!) and swimming.

Swimming was great because I was “weightless” – check with your local YWCA, they may offer water aerobics specifically for pregnant women.

Lifting light weights, both free and circuit, can be done as well, just remember to breathe out as you exert energy. There are certain exercises that should be avoided due to the risk of safety. These include (but are not limited to) horseback riding, skiing – both water and snow and scuba diving.

There are a few things you should remember when exercising to keep you and your unborn baby safe. First and foremost, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

• The American College of obstetrics and Gynecology recommend that your heart rate not get above 140 beats per minute – learn how to check your pulse and check it often.
•Don’t do any exercises that require you to be on your back (supine position) after the first trimester.
•Warm up and cool down.
•Drink water, drink water, drink water, this cannot be stressed enough. Drink before, during, and after your workout.
•Dress in layers so you can shed as you heat up.
•Wear loose clothing so your movements are not restricted.
•Make sure you replace the calories you expended during exercise with a healthy snack.
•If you have any pain, are dizzy or have swelling in hands and feet – STOP – take a rest and drink water. Call your doctor if any symptoms do not go away with rest.

So, go ahead, hit the gym, the jogging path, even the walking circuit at the mall. Exercising will help you feel better, both physically and mentally. You may avoid extreme weight gain, varicose veins, swelling of the hands and feet. Exercise also helps to increase endurance, which is important during labor.
Hope to see you at the gym!