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Acceptable exercises for pregnant women

Women commonly gain weight during pregnancy. Though such weight gain is expected and perfectly natural, some women still want to maintain a healthy weight and hope to avoid gaining a few too many pounds while they're pregnant. Exercise can be a great way for women to fight off those extra pregnancy pounds, but a woman should discuss any exercise regimen should be discussed with her physician before beginning. Certain activities, such as skiing and horseback riding, should be avoided during pregnancy. But the following are a few exercise options for pregnant women, courtesy of the American Pregnancy Association.

* Swimming: Swimming is a great exercise for anyone, but especially for pregnant women, who often find their joints ache as their pregnancy progresses. Swimming makes you essentially weightless, helping reduce stress on your joints while providing beneficial cardiovascular exercise and helping your body's muscles stay toned.

* Running: Runners can continue running during a pregnancy. However, pregnant women who plan to keep running must remain hydrated and avoid overheating. Women who were not runners prior to pregnancy should avoid this activity, as they can be at risk of injury.

* Kegel exercises: Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and can make birth easier for women because strenghtening these muscles can help women control them during labor and delivery. The American Pregnancy Association also notes that Kegel exercises, in the process of toning the pelvic muscles, reduce the likelihood of developing bladder leaks and hemorrhoids. Many women continue Kegel exercises after pregnancy to promote healing and further strengthen these muscles.

* Yoga: Yoga is known for helping to relieve stress and pressure on the body; just be sure to avoid especially rigorous yoga, including hot yoga.

When exercising during a pregnancy, women should stop if they start feel shortness of breath, or if feelings of fatigue or dizziness begin to develop. And once again, pregnant women should always discuss physical activity with their physician prior to participating.