Sure, you get to go out shopping for new exercise clothing, but exercising through your pregnancy is beneficial in a variety of other ways. It helps you control your weight during pregnancy and makes it easier to lose weight after your baby is born. It keeps your muscles toned and flexible, for shorter and easier labor and delivery. You will also be less prone to suffer from depression, constipation, back aches and varicose veins.

Some forms of exercise or sports should be avoided by pregnant women. Swimming and water aerobics provide great cardio workouts and tone your body, while the water supports your weight, virtually eliminating stress to your joints. On the other hand, because water and snow skiing and horseback riding increase your risk of falling, you should avoid them. Cycling and stair-climbing provide good cardio workouts, too, especially if you use a stationary bike and add handrails to your stair-climber to reduce the risk of falling.

If aerobic exercise is part of your fitness regimen before pregnancy, you should be able to continue with it. Many gyms and clubs offer pregnancy aerobics classes. They’re not only safe, but fun, and the social interaction with other pregnant women can be an additional bonus!

Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor, which may help you have an easier birth by aiding in controlling your muscles during labor and delivery. You will be far less likely to have bladder leaks and hemorrhoids during pregnancy, and Kegel exercises are recommended to regain bladder control and aid in perineal healing after delivery. They are easy to do and can be done at any time, in any place, because no one will ever know you’re doing them!

Yoga is another way to help you stay fit during pregnancy. Yoga relieves stress and pressure in your body, and you can safely practice it at home with a Yoga video for pregnant women. Avoid the more rigorous exercises and those that must be done lying flat on your back. In your second and third trimesters, lying flat on your back decreases blood flow to your womb, which is not good for you or your baby!

If you’re already in the habit of running or jogging, you may be able to continue doing it during your pregnancy. Just be sure to ask your doctor if it’s safe for you. Walking is great exercise, too! It’s easier on your joints than running and jogging, but still gives you a good workout. With all three exercises, do warm-up stretches, be sure to stay well-hydrated, don’t allow yourself to become overheated, and wear comfortable, slip-proof shoes that provide the foot support you need.

If you don’t exercise at a health club, it’s a good idea to have an exercise partner. A partner gives you someone to talk to, can “spot” for you so your not as likely to fall or strain muscles and comes in really handy during the later stages of your pregnancy when it’s difficult to get off the floor (or the sofa) without a helping hand!

Remember, before you start a pregnancy exercise routine, or make changes to your current one, always ask your doctor if it’s OK to make these changes. If at any time during exercising you experience dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, chest pain or vaginal bleeding, immediately stop. If symptoms persist, see your doctor.

Exercising through your pregnancy helps keep you healthy and fit! And did I mention that you get to go shopping?