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Exercise just outside the door

You don't have to sign up for a class or a gym to get that heart rate going. The only thing you need to do is step out of the house.

A few hours of light to moderate exercise each week can help combat stress and leave you feeling healthy and energised throughout pregnancy And the stronger you are, the better your muscles will cope as your baby grows Exercise can also help you avoid, or reduce the pain of, backache and leg cramps during pregnancy

What's more, your body will cope better with childbirth if you're strong and fit

But it doesn’t take a gym membership or a personal trainer to keep fit You can get in shape all by yourself Here are some suggestions:

Walking
Walking is a safe form of exercise for pregnant women Start with one or two laps around the block and increase the distance as you get fitter
If you’re new to walking, aim to do a brisk 20-30 minute walk three times a week Fitter mums-to-be should aim for 30-40 minutes

Running
If you’re a runner, listen to your body and know when it’s time to slow down and stop For example, if you begin feeling pressure on your lower abdomen and undercarriage

Cycling
In the first few months of pregnancy, cycling can be an ideal sport with the baby tucked away low in the pelvis However, at all times, an accident could cause damage For safety reasons, try an exercise bike You won’t crash and you can monitor your heart rate and control your pedalling rate

Dancing
This is a fun way to exercise and provides a perfect opportunity for socialising Every kind of dancing is good, but remember to avoid jumping and sudden movements

Swimming
Do you live close to a pool? Water provides a welcome sense of weightlessness and feels very soothing as it caresses your body Aqua-aerobics (there are pregnancy classes at lots of pools) and swimming are very safe because there’s no impact, and you can start at any stage during pregnancy, even in the final few weeks
Just don’t do side movements at Aqua-aerobics in the latter stages of your pregnancy To avoid overheating or overexertion, swim at a sedate pace As a general rule, keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute and avoid pools that are too hot, such as thermal pools

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