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Article posted: 7/15/2013 5:45 AM

Your health: Pilates and pregnancy

Pregnancy fitness

Many experts recommend regular exercise as part of a prenatal routine. And there are plenty of programs, from yoga and dance to strength training and fitness classes, specifically tailored for pregnant women, says The Washington Post.

If you liked Pilates before you got pregnant, you now have an option for pursuing it at home with an instructor who knows where you're coming from: "Prenatal Pilates: Strengthen & Sculpt," taught by Pilates instructor Caroline Sandry, who in the DVD is 17 weeks pregnant. Sandry leads women through three 20-minute sessions -- including a standing workout and a floor workout -- that can be mixed and matched according to different stages of pregnancy.

The DVD is designed to build strength and stamina for pregnancy, labor and postnatal recovery. The movements, Sandry says, will help address changes to women's posture during pregnancy. The DVD also includes tips for issues such as swollen ankles, aching backs and legs, and anxiety. A follow-up to "Prenatal Pilates" focusing on postnatal recovery is set for release this autumn.

Don't pass salt, please

Salt is essential to the body. The sodium in salt helps transmit nerve impulses and contract muscle fibers. Working with potassium, it balances fluid levels in the body. But you only need a tiny amount of salt to do this, less than one-tenth of a teaspoon. The average American gets nearly 20 times that much, according to Harvard Medical School.

Most of the salt that Americans consume comes from prepared and processed foods. But enough comes from the salt shaker that it's worth finding alternatives. Here are five ways to cut back on sodium when cooking or at the table:

Ÿ Use spices and other flavor enhancers. Add flavor to your favorite dishes with spices, dried and fresh herbs, roots (such as garlic and ginger), citrus, vinegars and wine.

Ÿ Go nuts for healthy fats in the kitchen. Using the right healthy fats can add a rich flavor to foods, minus the salt.

Ÿ Sear, sauté and roast. Searing and sautéing foods in a pan builds flavor. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of many vegetables and the taste of fish and chicken.

Ÿ Get your whole grains from sources other than bread. Even whole-grain bread, while a healthier choice than white, can contain considerable sodium. And bread contains salt, not just for flavor but to ensure that the dough rises properly.

Ÿ Know your seasons, and, even better, your local farmer. Shop for raw ingredients with maximum natural flavor, thereby avoiding the need to add as much (if any) sodium.

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