Looking for a great way to get back in shape after the baby? Try water exercise. "You'll get an overall body workout with virtually none of the impact of land-based exercise," says Carolyn Collman, an exercise physiologist and certified aquatic therapist at Canyon Ranch Health and Fitness Resort, in Tucson, AZ. And that means less chance of injury. Another plus: You'll be able to work out longer without getting exhausted or overheated, says Collman. But don't dive in right away -- ask your doctor first. Then start slowly, increasing the intensity as you begin to feel stronger.
The following program was designed by Collman for Babytalk readers. The first two exercises can be done standing in mid-chest-level water; the last two are for deep water and should be done with a flotation belt -- try the AquaJogger belts for women (from $34 to $49). Collman recommends working toward a 30-minute workout. When you're ready to make it tougher, increase your speed or add webbed gloves for resistance.
Water walking (3 to 5 minutes) Walk across the pool, swinging your arms underwater. Take big steps as you move your feet in a heel-ball-toe stride, then walk backward, using a toe-ball-heel stride. Keep your legs straight with your knees unlocked.
Lateral gliding (3 to 5 minutes) Stand with your feet close together and your knees slightly bent. Slide your right foot out to the side while you lift your arms to the water's surface (don't lock your elbows). Then slide your left foot over while pushing your arms back down. Repeat with left leg leading, then right, so that you move back and forth in the water.
Jogging (5 to 10 minutes) Bring one knee up toward your chest, then push it downward and extend your leg slightly back. Alternate legs, and swing your arms, with your elbows bent. Try to maintain an upright posture, with your pelvis tucked under and your shoulders back and down.
Skiing (5 to 10 minutes) Align your body in a vertical position, keeping your arms and legs straight. From your hip, scissor one leg forward and one back. Swing the arms in opposition to your legs (right arm forward with left leg and vice versa). Keep your palms up on the forward motion, and turn them down as you extend back. Straighten your arms and legs without locking elbows or knees.