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Being fit and healthy is as important during pregnancy as it is at any other time. What's more tricky is knowing which types of exercises are safe, how often you can work out, and whether you really need some fitness regime to stay in shape. Let's take a closer look at the benefits of prenatal exercise, and what exercises are the best for pregnant women.

Why exercise during pregnancy? Exercise brings huge benefits to all healthy women experiencing normal pregnancies. The reasons to work out while you are expecting can be roughly summed up like this:

Physical activity is always important to stay healthy, and this is no different in pregnancy. Exercising regularly helps prevent excessive pregnancy weight gain, and reduces your work load after you give birth! Working out throughout your pregnancy encourages stamina and an easier birth, as well as quicker postpartum recovery. Prenatal exercise, and if you do it outside the fresh air too, helps prevent many pregnancy complications from morning sickness, to headaches, backaches, and varicose veins.

So, when isn't pregnancy exercise safe? If your doctor makes a blanket statement about stretching only during pregnancy, it's probably time to seek an OBGYN who is more up to date. But there are quite a few genuine medical reasons for not exercising during pregnancy, like carrying high-order multiples, having an incompetent cervix, or a history of premature labor. If your doctor told you not to work out, ask why and make sure you know what you can and can't do. If in doubt, you can always ask for a second opinion.

Great pregnancy workouts Swimming, walking, cycling and pilates are all considered among the top safest exercises for women who are expecting a baby. Light aerobics and strength training are fine. There are also plenty of activities that are best avoided when you are pregnant. Contact sports like karate should be avoided, and sports that carry a risk of falling ice skating, hiking, horseback riding, etc should wait until after pregnancy too. Scuba diving isn't safe either.

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