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prenatal yoga

Week-by-Week Workout Tips: Second Trimester

As your body continues to change during your second trimester, you'll need to pay special attention to your workouts to make sure you're exercising the right way. From choosing the best snacks to navigating your increasingly shaky balance, here are the week-by-week tips to stay healthy while safely fitting in fitness.

Week 14: Create Your Pregnancy Workout Goals

Early pregnancy fatigue may have you dragging, and you sometimes just want to crawl into bed at 14 weeks pregnant. Unless you're sick, give yourself a pep talk and get your butt moving. Figure out what motivates you. Are you trying to manage your weight gain? Stay flexible? Banish a case of the blues? Or just get in shape for delivery? Remind yourself that exercise will help! And don't forget to reward yourself for reaching mini-goals (for example, you worked out five days this week, so treat yourself to a manicure!).

Week 15: Find Comfortable Maternity Workout Clothes

The heat's on when you're expecting, thanks to a boost in your metabolism. So when you're dressing for exercise success at 15 weeks pregnant, play it cool. Wear loose, breathable, stretchable clothes…right down to your undies (which should be cotton). Choose a bra — perhaps a sports bra — that provides plenty of support for your larger-than-life breasts but that doesn't pinch once you get moving. If your sneakers are showing their age, replace them now to minimize your chances of injury or falls (while you're at it, make sure you're wearing the right sneakers for your sport). Wearing clothes that look good will make you feel good, too.

Week 16: Eat the Right Pregnancy Workout Snacks

One of exercise's top selling points is that it burns calories. Card-carrying baby-builders like you, though, get the guilt-free pleasure of replacing those calories. So 30 minutes before you work out, hit the fridge for a light snack and a drink. Follow up with an encore snack. At 16 weeks pregnant, bananas and orange juice are great options because they contain plenty of potassium, an essential nutrient that's lost when you perspire, plus they offer quick energy. Add a little protein for staying power (a hard-boiled egg or a cheese stick, for instance).

Week 17: Benefit of Working Out: You Get to Eat More!

Listen up and smile, you 17 weeks pregnant ladies: You get to eat an extra 100 to 200 calories for every half hour of strenuous exercise. But choose those calories wisely: Pick nutrient-rich foods that won't undo the benefits of all your hard work. (So much for that chocolate bar you were about to reach for...)

Week 18: Exercises to Ease Your Pregnancy Back Pain

Backache got you down at 18 weeks pregnant? Instead of nursing it on the sofa, do some yoga or Pilates. Both help stretch and loosen the spine, and release tension — a major factor in back pain. Another plus: Yoga and Pilates boost your overall energy level (and mood), so you're better able to cope with the pregnancy pains that remain. In addition to back-centric exercises, you can also do simple moves that strengthen your abdominal muscles — which will, in turn, reduce the amount of strain on your lower back. (But remember, don't exercise on your back now that you're well into your second trimester.)

Week 19: Avoid These Fitness Moves

These moves may work great when you're not pregnant, but don't even think about trying them at home (or at the gym) now. At 19 weeks pregnant, just say no to: upside-down "bicycles," shoulder stands, or flat-on-your-back positions after the fourth month. Also off-limits: deep-knee bends, back bends, jumping, bouncing, or herky-jerky dancing.

Week 20: Stretch the Right Way During Pregnancy

One of the many side effects when you are 20 weeks pregnant is the stretching of muscles and loosening of ligaments (which also means that they are more prone to injury), so stay conscious of that when you're exercising — and don't overstretch. If a movement hurts, stop. And even if it doesn't hurt, now's not the time to see if you can still do a split.

Week 21: Don't Get Stiff: Get Moving!

If you spend long hours sitting on the job at 21 weeks pregnant (or even if you're on your feet all day), it's easy to become a working stiff — literally. So brake for a five- or 10-minute break at least once an hour — take a short stroll down the corridor (you know you need to pee anyway), or do a series of standing stretches (touch your toes while you can still see them!). Do the same during couch-potato sessions at home too. When you're stuck in your chair, try this exercise to get your blood moving: Extend your leg, flex your feet, and wiggle your toes while taking a few deep breaths. And don't forget to flex your neck from side to side occasionally, too.

Week 22: Constipated While Pregnant? Work It Out!

Is the plumbing clogged at 22 weeks pregnant? Then start working out. Both during pregnancy and in those first postpartum weeks, physical activity is one of the best ways to stimulate your bowels and fight constipation. Even just a half-hour walk a day can do the trick — especially if you drink plenty of water and favor fiber-rich foods (so take some trail mix on the trail).

Week 23: Work Out to Boost Baby's Brain

Don't just take it from me — scientific research shows that you're not the only one who benefits from pregnancy exercise. Apparently, babies of moms who exercise throughout pregnancy score higher, on average, on general intelligence tests by age five. So, at 23 weeks pregnant, your workout will boost not only your muscle power, but baby's brain power too!

Week 24: Pilates During Pregnancy — Try It

Everybody (and their pregnant neighbor) is doing it — but is Pilates the right exercise for you? Absolutely — and it's not a stretch! This mind-body discipline focuses on strengthening your core and elongating your muscles, increasing tone, strength, and flexibility — making it perfect when you're exercising for two at 24 weeks pregnant. Choose a pregnancy Pilates class if you can, or let your instructor know you're expecting so she can modify or eliminate any inappropriate positions or movements.

Week 25: Straighten Up! Exercise to Improve Your Posture

Sure, it's not easy standing up straight (at least, as straight as Mom would like) when you've got a basketball strapped to your belly. At 25 weeks pregnant, your posture takes hits for a couple of reasons: first, your baby's weight causes your lower back to sway as your center of gravity shifts forward; second, your stomach muscles stretch (and stretch) as baby grows, becoming less able to contract and keep your lower back in alignment. To compensate (and make Mom happy), strengthen your abs (with such exercises as the standing pelvic tilt), which reduces pressure on your lower back.

Week 26: Watch Your Balance During Pregnancy

It's not just what you do, it's what you do it on. To lessen impact on your loosened-up joints and ligaments at 26 weeks pregnant, opt for a wood floor or carpet over tile or concrete when exercising indoors. Outside, choose a soft running track or a dirt trail over a hard road or sidewalk, but avoid bumpy paths, as your balance (you might have noticed) isn't what it used to be.

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