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Pool aerobics class helps pregnant women

The class description reads: “Got a bun in the oven? Get your heart rate cookin’ and help make your pregnancy experience a healthier one!”

It is an advertisement promoting a new Prenatal Water Workout class at the Kroc Center offered Tuesdays and Thursday from 9 to 9:55 in the morning.

According to 10-year water fitness instructor Le’Tana Lickfold, an aquatic environment is an ideal medium for exercise during pregnancy.

“It is a perfect setting,” Lickfold said.

A pregnant body goes through big transformations, with weight gain and a growing belly that creates a new and unbalanced body posture.

Lickfold says the buoyancy of the water helps to decrease the “load” that the body has to bear when submerged in water. This decreases compression on the joints and allows for proper body mechanics and joint functions.

“Its cushioning, cooling effect reduces thermal stress by keeping mom’s temperature within safer levels for the fetus,” Lickfold said.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website, pregnant women who are without medical complications can perform moderate levels of physical activity to maintain cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness. Lickfold stresses that aquatic exercise should promote regular, moderate intensity at duration of 30 minutes or more per day with the water temperature between 83 and 85 degrees.

“Exercise during pregnancy also reduces the mother’s blood pressure and heart rate, helps with weight control, and helps prevent leg swelling,” according to Lickfold.

Added benefits of water exercise are that it improves sleep patterns and rapid postnatal recovery, reduces constipation, prepares the mother-to-be for the rigors of birth, and eases the postpartum experience.

Great care is taken to promote safety and well-being of participants during Lickfold’s class.

She warns participants to stop exercising immediately and call their doctor if they experience dizziness or faintness; increased shortness of breath; chest or calf pain or swelling; vaginal bleeding; headache; or contractions.

“The golden rule is to listen to your body and adjust accordingly,” Lickfold said.

Lickfold teaches the following components during the class to ensure safety and optimum performance: a 10- to 15-minute warm-up; a 25-minute main set of active movement exercises designed to work all parts of your body; and a 15-minute cool-down of easy stretches.

Other new fall drop-in water classes offered at the Kroc Center are: Use Your Noodles, Aqua Boot Camp and Aqua Zumba.

Water exercise is good for your mind as well as your body. It is calming, soothing and relaxing and offers the additional benefit of friendship, according to Lickfold.

“Taking the plunge and joining a prenatal water class will give the mom-to-be an opportunity to make new friends and improve her fitness at the same time,” Lickfold said.