How To Stay Fit Without Losing Much-Needed Weight
I am having a hard time gaining weight during this pregnancy, and was naturally thin to begin with. Do you have any suggestions for exercises I could do to gain strength and keep fit without burning off any fat? - Denise in Albany, New York
The expert answers
As you know, it is very important that you gain weight so that you grow a healthy baby. The first order of business is to check with your healthcare provider to make sure you're in good health. Assuming so, then I would recommend some light aerobic exercise to build your stamina and endurance. You might want to try walking at a moderate pace for 20 minutes three times a week or swimming for the same amount of time. You don't want to workout so vigorously that you get into your fat-burning zone. Try to keep your heartrate at about 60% of your maximum (220 minus your age).
Couple the aerobic exercise with some strengthening exercises to build your muscle tone and increase your lean body mass. Start with three sets of 8 repetitions using 3-5 pound hand weights. Work up to 3 sets of 15 reps. When that gets too easy, gradually increase the amount of weight you're using. You want to lift at a slow, steady pace -- again, you want to avoid elevating your heartrate into your fat-burning zone. Rest for 20-30 seconds between sets and move slowly between exercises.
Your diet will also play a major role in how much weight you gain. You should discuss your dietary needs with your healthcare provider or a registered dietician to make sure you're eating enough of the right calories and getting enough vitamins and minerals. If you're not already taking a prenatal vitamin, ask about that as well. My guess is that they will recommend that you eat several mini-meals throughout the day to ensure that you take in enough calories. They may even suggest using a liquid nutritional supplement to boost your calorie-intake. Since I'm not a registered dietician, please discuss these matters with someone who is qualified to properly advise you.
Best of luck to you!