If you’re thinking about having a baby, you’re probably doing a lot of planning. There’s not only the logistics of getting pregnant but thoughts of setting up a nursery (maybe even upgrading your home), planning for career changes/daycare, and more. But while you’re prepping for pregnancy, don’t forget about taking care of your body! Not only should you be taking prenatal vitamins and improving your diet, but getting fit is wise as well. Getting your body in shape will help you prepare for a healthy pregnancy. Learn all about getting fit before pregnancy.
Why You Should Get In Shape Before You Get Pregnant
Pregnancy can be hard on a person’s body, so getting fit before can make the whole process easier.
Moderate exercise before pregnancy has huge positive effects. First, it can help improve fertility, especially for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and other underlying conditions. Stress can interfere with conception and regular exercise helps to reduce it.
If you go into pregnancy with an already established exercise routine, you can experience less pain while pregnant and lower weight gains during pregnancy, which makes the pregnancy easier overall. It can also prevent other issues during pregnancy like gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Overweight women are also more likely to experience complications during labor and delivery, so getting fit can prevent that.
One important point to remember is that moderate exercise is best. Over-exerting oneself or exercising too much can actually reduce fertility. We like the CDC’s exercise recommendations 2 or more days a week of muscle-strengthening activities, plus (a) 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, (b) 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or (c) a mix of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 2 or more days a week.
How to Get Fit Before Pregnancy
It’s easy to set the goal, but following through can be the tricky part. Here are our tips to help you be successful.
Pick Exercises You Enjoy
The first thing you want to do is pick out workouts you enjoy because you’ll be more likely to do them. If everyone around you thinks running is the best exercise and you struggle to even put on your sneakers then it’s probably not the exercise for you. Aerobics, yoga, pilates, swimming, and strength training are all great options for pre-pregnancy fitness. Evening taking a thirty-minute walk outside each day is a gentle way to get your heart pumping and your body moving (plus it’s good for your mental health). It’s also good to add variety to your routine, so don’t limit yourself to one type of exercise.
If you’re actively trying to conceive, make sure you check in with your doctor to get their approval on your workout routine. Since you could become pregnant at any time, you don’t want to do anything that could negatively affect you or the baby. Exercises to avoid include sports that have a high risk of injury (eg. gymnastics, snowboarding, contact sports) and exercising in extreme heat.
Set Realistic Fitness Goals
One of the biggest reasons people fail their fitness goals is they make them too difficult to achieve. While you don’t want to go too easy on yourself, setting realistic goals is the best way to set goals that you can achieve.
If you’re starting from zero, you won’t be able to jump right to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day. Instead, start with three days a week of your preferred exercise. As your fitness level improves you can increase the number of days or the length of your exercise sessions.
If you benefit from outside motivation, consider starting a 30 day challenge or finding an exercise buddy who can help keep you accountable or keep you company during your workout.
Track Your Progress
Tracking your exercise progress can be a great motivator to keep up with your habit and achieve your fitness goals. Everyone is different, but there are a few different ways to track your progress. You may need to try a few to figure out which one motivates you the best.
Write Down Your Goals
Write down specific goals related to getting fit. Don’t use the vague “I want to get fit.” Try things like, “Lose 10 pounds,” “Run a 12 minute mile,” or “Do yoga five days a week.” Writing down your goal helps encode it in your memory and also gives you something to reference when you’re losing motivation.
Use a Fitness Tracker
Wearing a fitness tracker is one of the easiest ways to track your progress. Depending on the type you get, they not only track your daily steps but many have built-in exercise tracking. You can use the apps to track your progress over time. Some apps even have ways to set personalized goals or reminders that can nudge you to be more active.
Make a Fitness Schedule
If your days are busy, setting aside time for your exercise routine will make it easy to hit your goal. I like writing it into my planner and crossing it off when I’m done. You can also schedule it on the calendar on your phone to get notifications when it’s time to exercise.