Posted: Mar 03, 2013 6:00 PM
Follow these expert exercise tips for staying active -- and safe -- during pregnancy.

Whether you're a marathon-running mama-to-be or the only pregnancy exercise you're thinking about doing is spooning ice cream into your mouth, back into the pint and so on and so on, you may have questions. Malik Turley, Owner of Hip Circle Studio in Evanston, Illinois, where she teaches exercise classes for pregnant women - and women of all ages - has answers.

QUESTION^Is exercise during pregnancy safe?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), moderate-intensity aerobic activity has very low risks for healthy pregnant women. Generally, exercise is safe for healthy pregnant women.

"That leaves a lot of room for moms to be creative with their quest for health and fitness," says Turley. "Also, if mom was already leading an active lifestyle full of aerobic activity, the guidelines support her continuing those activities throughout her pregnancy."

How often should I exercise?

working out

The CDC recommends that pregnant women get two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Remember, that's if you're having a healthy pregnancy and your healthcare provider hasn't put any restrictions on your activity. Turley explains, "If there are complications cropping up during the pregnancy -- for example bleeding, abdominal pain or early contractions -- then caution should be taken with exercise."

If you were active before getting pregnant, it's generally OK to keep up what you've been doing, making modifications as needed throughout the next nine months. If you didn't exercise regularly before getting pregnant, now is not the best time to start a full-on routine. Talk to your healthcare provider and be sure to take it slow at first. Turley adds, "Keeping an open dialog going with her practitioner is the best route to take -- there is almost always something active a mom can be doing -- it's just a matter of finding the safest way for her and baby."

What are some good pregnancy exercises to try?

Turley says, "I love seeing moms do upright exercise during pregnancy, so walking or taking aerobic fitness classes are at the top of my list. I also encourage moms to do strength training -- including core work -- during pregnancy, as those muscles will come in very handy during labor and, even more so, during the postpartum period. Finally, the movements taught and used in belly dance are perfectly suited to get moms ready for the labor process, so I suggest adding a belly dance class into the mix."

More about the first trimester

First trimester ultrasound: What to expect
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The 5 most surprising things about the first trimester

Topics: fitness