Published August 08, 2007 by
What is an aerobic exercise? Is it calisthenics? Isometrics? Slimnastics? Working with weights/ Sports like racquetball, golfing, softball, tennis? No! It is lap swimming, jogging, walking, biking, rowing, dancing, cross country skiing, and so on. Aerobic exercise differs from other exercises, in that they center upon your heart, lungs and circulatory system [collectively called your cardiopulmonary system], while other forms of exercise concentrate on your muscular system. An activity or exercise is aerobic if it is  makes your heart work harder than usual over an extended period of time and  creates an increased demand for oxygen,  making you breath more deeply and rapidly to meet your body's increased metabolic demand.
What can aerobic exercise do for you? Everyone benefits from such exercise because it is individualized to each person, whatever the level of fitness, whether pregnant or not. Aerobic exercise during pregnancy has been widely studied, but knowledge of maternal and fetal physiology, as well as the few studies that have been done, indicates that aerobic exercise during pregnancy is safe and effective in improving maternal fitness, among the benefits reported are the following:
You have more energy, you feel less tired and fatigued.
If you are building your fitness level, you must exercise a minimum of three times a week. Four to six times is even better.
The Aerobic Exercise Session
Each workout or exercise session should consist of three parts: a warm up period, the aerobic workout, and a cool down period.
The Warm Up
Don't neglect this. No aerobic workout should be started on a "cold" body. Warm up moves:
Spend a minimum of five minutes, [ten is better] stretching and limbering up Stretch just to the point of mild tension [not pain], and then hold the stretch for a slow count of ten. Release and repeat three times in all. No bouncing! It will only make your muscles tighter. Concentrate stretches on the lower body [legs, ankles, hips, knees], but don't completely neglect the upper body [arms, shoulders, neck]. If you are walking, lap swimming, biking, or engaging in some other independent activity, spend another five minutes moving slowly, and gradually move faster and faster toward your target zone. In other words, don't stretch and then "burst" into your pulse range.
Hold each stretch for ten seconds.
Soleus [deep Calf] and Achilles Tendon Stretch
Back, Calf and Hamstring Stretch
The Aerobic Workout
Spend a minimum of twelve minutes with your pulse in your target zone, be aware that you may need to spend longer than twelve minutes in your activity to meet the twelve minute requirement. For instance, you may have to bike for twenty minutes to actually keep your pulse within your target zone for twelve continuous minutes, or walk briskly for fifteen or twenty minutes to satisfy the twelve minute minimum.[the accompanying chart shows a recommended walking program]. Recently, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommended no more than fifteen or twenty minutes of aerobics in your target zone during baby pregnancy. This amount is sufficient, when repeated three times a week, to develop or maintain aerobic fitness. Until you increase your body awareness and know the internal feelings that mean you are in the correct pulse zone, depend on your watch, frequent pulse checks, and the talk test.
Once you get started, you'll be able to tell if these are making a difference for you. Every body is different, so if yours reacts differently, adjust with it! Then the baby gifts you get will be material and not baby weight.