During the first and third trimesters of pregnancy, exercise may very well be the furthest thing from your mind. You may either be too sick and exhausted, or you may be feeling like the size of a minibus. For those three months in the middle, you might actually have enough energy and be feeling well enough to get up and move around.

It’s important that you at least try to get some exercise throughout the pregnancy, but it’s also important not to go overboard. Regular exercise can help your body shape up for the labor and delivery. An additional bonus of working out while pregnant is that you will not gain as much weight, which will help your body bounce back to its normal size quicker. Here are some hints and tips to get you going.

#1. Exercise when you’re feeling your best. If you wake up groggy in the morning and it takes you an hour just to get out of bed, perhaps first thing in the morning isn’t the best time to start an exercise routine. Likewise, if you’re dragging your feet by evening, that’s probably not your best time either. Listen to your body to figure out when it’s ready to move.

#2. Every little bit counts. You don’t have to run a marathon, swim 40 miles, or lift twice your own body weight in the gym. Do some gentle yoga—there are countless prenatal yoga books, videos, and flash cards. Or, go for a walk—even walking around the mall counts.

#3. Make sure your doctor or midwife knows about your exercise routine. If you were a jogger before you got pregnant, you may still be able to keep jogging. However, even low impact exercise may bring some concerns, so be sure you discuss your routine so you can be aware of any extra precautions to take. Your doctor or midwife should be able to tell you which types of exercise are perfect for you and your baby.


#4. Consider joining a gym. A lot of gyms have prenatal exercise classes, or trainers who can help you exercise safely and effectively at all stages of the pregnancy.

#5. Get an exercise buddy. You may enjoy taking walks with your partner or a friend; this may even bring you closer to each other. For some people, working out with a buddy is a great motivator. It also can help the workout go quickly.

#6. Don’t overexert yourself. You don’t want to exhaust yourself, particularly in those last weeks, when labor could be just around the corner. Take frequent breaks to sit down or rest, and stop when you get too tired. There are mixed opinions as to whether or not you need to monitor your heart rate and stay under a certain bpm, so check with your doctor on this as well.

The main objective, really, is just to keep moving. Believe it or not, exercise may actually help you have more energy and feel less sick. The trick, of course, is getting started. Do whatever you enjoy, and remember that every activity counts. Taking the stairs, walking across parking lots, even cleaning your house can be considered exercise. If you’re up and moving around, you and your baby are getting some exercise.