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Shopping for Maternity Exercise Clothes

Smart advice on fitness wear for moms-to-be:

You may be able to stick with your regular workout duds, but instead of hiking exercise leggings or shorts up and over a burgeoning belly, try a unitard for a streamlined look that's more comfortable. Another stylish, feel-good option: maternity leggings with a stretchy tank or T-shirt.

Most pregnant women don't need extra support for their growing bellies, says Loretta DiPietro, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Yale University School of Medicine. But if you're new to exercise or prone to lower-back pain, you may want to invest in workout gear that helps support the lower back and belly, such as the bottoms offered by Mothers In Motion. Or wear a maternity belt underneath your clothes (about $30 from Fit Maternity & Beyond).

Avoid anything that rubs against your skin or feels binding, such as tight elastic around your abdomen, legs, and ankles. Steer clear of 100 percent nylon or polyester garments, which can reduce air circulation. Better: Cotton-and-Lycra blends -- ideally, 80 to 90 percent cotton -- allow air to circulate. Best of all: Synthetics -- Dri-Fit, Coolmax, and Double Dry, among others -- wick wetness away from skin (thus helping to prevent rashes and breakouts) and keep you feeling cool and dry.

Dress in layers to avoid overheating; you can add or peel them off as needed, says Camilla Callaway, a personal exercise trainer in Columbus, GA.

If you want to spring for maternity workout wear -- and you may need to in your third trimester, depending on your size -- check out styles from Mothers In Motion, Mimi Maternity, Belly Basics, Title Nine Sports, and Japanese Weekend.

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