We’re always interested in hearing about ways to keep in shape during pregnancy and Kaitlin Gardner from An Apple Per Day has shared with us her experiences of what worked during her two pregnancies.

Being pregnant does not mean that you should take nine months off from your exercise routine. In fact, even if you did not exercise regularly prior to being pregnant, you don’t have to wait until the baby is born to start exercising. Staying in shape during your pregnancy is easier than you think, and combined with a healthy eating plan, exercising while pregnant will help you look and feel better throughout your pregnancy””and beyond. Of course, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise plan, especially when you are pregnant.

During both of my pregnancies, I was lucky enough to live near an indoor aquatic centre, but it wasn’t until my second pregnancy that I had no other choice if I wanted to exercise while pregnant. Here are a few resources that help explain why swimming is one of the best forms of exercise when you’re pregnant:

During my first pregnancy, I was already a moderate exerciser. I ran twice a week and played on a co-ed softball team. I also took a yoga class at least twice a month, and tried to stretch and do some basic yoga poses at home a few times a week while I watched TV. Except for the softball, which happened to end right around the time I got pregnant, I didn’t really modify my exercise routine at all; I still ran twice a week and actually was able to increase my yoga practice to a class once a week. Instead of playing softball two nights a week, I took a long walk around my neighborhood. I stopped running at seven months along, and adjusted my yoga practice to accommodate my growing belly, center of gravity and changing joints. Within a few weeks of giving birth, I resumed all of my activities. In actuality, being pregnant did not affect my exercise regimen virtually at all.

The Second Time Around

And then came pregnancy number two. A complication early in my pregnancy ruled out running, or strenuous activities, like softball. In fact, stretching and some light yoga was about all I was allowed to do that was part of my previous routine. But then I found swimming.

My doctor cleared me for lap swimming and light aqua aerobics. He said that the buoyancy that water provides was actually a really excellent way to protect the fetus while still getting a workout for my muscles. As I grew in size and put on weight, the normal hip-joint pain was practically non-existent in the water. In fact, after picking up a pair of wrist weights, I noticed that I was actually gaining muscle tone in my upper arms and shoulders and losing fat! In fact, my arms and shoulders looked better than before I got pregnant!

One of the great things about a water-based routine is that even if you are only doing an upper body workout, your muscles really get a workout, thanks to resistance. In fact, after six months of doing aqua aerobics, and with the addition of webbed water gloves, my biceps, triceps and shoulders were looking better than before I got pregnant!

A Great Move to Get You Going

This easy move will introduce you to water aerobics.

Jumping Jacks: Standing in mid-chest level water, stand with fee hip-width apart. Start with 10 jumping jacks, and do two or three sets, depending on how you feel. Adjustment: If you are not able or don’t want to “jump,” move into shallower water and substitute a squat instead of jump each time you raise your hands over your head. In other words, a Squat Jack!

Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside and discovering interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint with watercolors.