The pregnant gal's guide to wintertime exercise

by Melissa Jaramillo

exercise winterWith cold winter winds howling outside, it can be very tempting for mom-to-be to skip the workout and opt to curl up comfy on the couch with a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Resist ladies!

Remember those important "end goals" -- easier labor, shorter delivery times, and faster recovery postpartum.

Best of all, know you're giving yourself and your baby the healthiest start possible.

Here's a guide to keep you moving despite the cold temperatures outside.

Your guide to wintertime exercise

Safety must be your first consideration

First and foremost you must look at safety.

• Always check with your physician before starting any exercise. This includes walking or swimming as well.

• Wintertime has hazards of its own. If you live in an area with snow or ice it may be safer to take your exercise regimen indoors. If you don't have a local gym that has a track, local shopping centers or malls are just as safe.

• Keep that water bottle handy and access to a bathroom even handier. You'll want to stay hydrated and we all know what extra hydration does to a pregnant woman's bladder.

• Avoid overheating.

• Opt out of doing crunches, Pilates or regular yoga.

Get moving!

Now, let the fun begin. Many think that being pregnant means you can no longer exercise. Others wonder if being pregnant in the winter means no more exercising.

Nope, you're not so lucky...or should it be unlucky? You can find plenty of ways to get your stretch on even though your belly's growing.

Many gyms offer prenatal yoga, water aerobics, swimming or tracks for you to walk on. They also have trainers willing and able to specialize a work out just for your pregnant self.

Perks and benefits

You can listen to music or books while you work out or walk. Now, that's relaxation and time just for you!

If you'd rather have company, find a friend to exercise with or make a new friend in your prenatal exercise classes. Enjoy this time. Soon you'll be arranging a babysitter to watch baby while you exercise or pushing a stroller on the track.

In the end, the benefits of exercising while pregnant help you during your pregnancy and during recovery, as well. Exercise can reduce backaches, constipation and bloating. It helps keep excess pounds away and can help control your blood sugar if you have gestational diabetes.

It's even reputed to help during labor and speed up your recovery after the baby arrives.

Happy exercising! What keeps you moving despite the cold temperatures outside?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.