Hot Mama To-Be: Safe and Beneficial Ways to Stay Fit During & After Pregnancy

By: Lisa Corsello, fitness expert and owner and creator of Burn
Maternity is a unique experience for any woman to have. Your body will go through several changes throughout your pregnancy, so it’s important to stick to your daily health routine as much as possible in order to maintain the healthy lifestyle you lived before and after your baby’s arrival.

Many expecting mothers might have concern when deciding whether or not to continue workouts while pregnant. The truth is- it is perfectly safe and in fact essential to stay fit during and after your pregnancy. Your body will change drastically in such a short amount of time that staying healthy and fit to the best of your ability will actually help you cope with your pregnancy, before and after. Here are some tips to staying healthy and fit throughout your maternity.

Before the baby

Most importantly, check in with your doctor. Everyone’s pregnancy is different, so it’s important to follow your doctor’s advice and listen to your body. During the first trimester, it’s generally okay to continue to do what you’ve regularly done prior to the pregnancy. Regular exercise is really important and good for you, so try to keep a routine that works for you and your body.

  • Don’t let your heart rate get too high. Ask your doctor to help you determine your own max heart rate for each trimester.  The old rules limited every woman’s heart rate to 140 BPM, but some doctors feel that the cardiovascular fitness level of each woman pre-pregnancy determines her max heart rate guidelines after she becomes pregnant
  • Some women find that as their pregnancy progresses, they’re able to maintain cardiovascular fitness by using a stationary or spin bike, which can be more comfortable than other cardio equipment.
  • Maintaining and toning arms muscles are very important to work on during pregnancy. Once the baby arrives, you will need those strong mom arms to carry, lift and hold your baby. Lots of expecting mothers continue to exercise using weights throughout pregnancy, but I recommend listening to your body and make modifications as needed, with lighter weights and higher reps.
  • The general rule of core workouts is that women in the first trimester of a “healthy” pregnancy can do most of the exercises she did before pregnant (within reason, of course).  My personal advice is to stop crunches and twists and find ways to work your abs isometrically.  Plank and modified plank position are generally comfortable in the first few months.  Protect and strengthen your abs and lower back throughout the workout by gently drawing the abs in during weight and spring work.  Keeping your midsection engaged is a great way to maintain core strength without crunching and twisting, which generally aren’t advised as you start to grow.
  • You can modify squats by placing a ball behind your back against the wall and squatting; this will ensure proper form and will help protect the lower back.

After the baby

Make sure to check with your doctor to get clearance before you start back on an exercise program. Remember to ease back into your program gradually, but keep it consistent.  The more consistent the workouts, the faster you’ll build endurance and strength.

  • A great way to maximize calorie burn and minimize boredom is to do 10 minute circuits that include cardio, squats, lunges, abs, and weights for the upper body.  Work every muscle group with lots of ab work and 2-3 minute cardio bursts in between sets.
  • Remember that it takes time to lose the baby weight, and try to be patient with yourself as you adjust to the demands of motherhood.
  • Focus on short-term goals rather than the sometimes overwhelming goal of trying to be exactly where and how you were before you got pregnant.
  • Taking the baby for walks counts as exercise, and adding 10-15 minutes to your daily route will add up.
  • If you don’t have time for a full workout, try to squeeze in little bits of exercise when you can at home.  Crunches, leg raises, squats, lunges and push-ups are great exercises you can do anywhere!

Living a healthy lifestyle is important for both you and your baby. Remember to keep these tips in mind as you stay active during and after pregnancy.

About Lisa Corsello

Lisa is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, nutrition consultant and group fitness instructor who works with clients to create customized, goal-oriented exercise and nutrition plans. Using her extensive training and fitness background, Lisa has developed a popular new fitness technique called Burn. The 55-minute workout brings the benefits of dynamic individualized workouts to groups using a method that draws upon the best of Pilates, strength and core training for optimal results. Her programs emphasize constant movement using circuits to challenge and improve endurance, agility, balance and strength, with appropriate focus on stressing proper form and method. Each workout incorporates dynamic strength and cardiovascular training with active recovery techniques targeting all major muscle groups. Sessions are intended to be learning experiences that constantly evolve, keeping each one challenging and fresh.
She has successfully adapted and applied her methods to clients with a wide range of abilities and capabilities; absolute beginners needing basic knowledge, enthusiasts who want to increase lean body mass and reduce body fat, people recovering from sports injuries or serious illness, and professional athletes in training. Lisa, a Lululemon Athletica Ambassador, has been a featured fitness expert on WebMD as well as in My Family Doctor Magazine, LowCarb Magazine, Current Health Magazine, and Cornell University’s Food & Fitness Advisor newsletter. In fact, Lisa is a regularly featured fitness expert on the KPIX Weekend Morning Show. Lisa is currently a contributing fitness expert on

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