I'm a large woman (about 250 pounds) and want to be sure to have a healthy pregnancy. Do you have any prenatal exercise tips for me?
The expert answers
Congratulations on taking an active role (no pun intended!) on staying healthy during your pregnancy! You don't mention whether or not you were exercising prior to becoming pregnant, so I'll go on the assumption that you are new to fitness. If that's the case, then you'll want to start slowly, perhaps with a 10 to 15 minute moderately-paced walk on flat terrain.
As you start to feel stronger, then you can add time to your walk in five-minute increments, gradually increasing to 45 minutes three to five times per week. Once you can walk that duration comfortably, try adding some low hills into your walking route to add intensity. Be sure to take along a bottle of water and take a big swig every 10 to 15 minutes so you stay well-hydrated.
To balance out your fitness program, you'll need to do some light strength training using one- to two-pound weights or large soup cans for resistance. You'll want to include exercises for all the major muscle groups of your upper body as well as your lower body. Start with eight repetitions of each exercise, gradually increasing to three sets of 12 repetitions. You can do strength work each day, alternating between upper and lower body. All it takes is about 10 to 15 minutes per session to see some real results! After each workout session, do some light stretching of the muscles used during that session. Hold each stretch for about 15 seconds, making sure to continue breathing as you hold the stretch. Avoid any bouncing movements while you stretch so that you don't injure yourself.