Fitness expert and contributor Vicki Vara shares her top pregnancy workout tips.

By peoplestaff225
Updated April 12, 2012 10:00 AM

When you’re expecting, often the last thing you want to do is try to come up with an exercise routine.

Between the general tiredness and the possible queasiness, finding the motivation (and energy!) to work out isn’t as easy as before.

That’s why we’ve tapped Vicki Vara, a fitness expert, nutrition coach, mom-of-two and contributer to, for her exercising tips.

Not only does she understand the demands on a pregnant woman’s time and body, but she also knows how crucial exercising is to prepare your body for labor and establish a foundation for a quick return to your pre-pregnancy shape.

Vara breaks it all down — by trimester — below. Check it out:

First Trimester: You may find these 12 weeks to be the most difficult to stay motivated. When the exhaustion and nausea set in the best thing to do is put on your sneakers, get outside and walk!

The fresh air will help relieve your stomach and provide you with an instant boost of energy. Yoga and Pilates classes are also great for this period. These gentle movements will help to maintain your muscle tone, soothe your symptoms and help you develop a strong mind/body connection.

Second Trimester: Hopefully, you’re feeling a lot better so keep up your walking routine and make sure to watch your heart rate (it should stay under 120 BPM) closely.

Ballet-inspired exercises (think graceful side leg lifts, plié squats, etc.) are a fantastic way to maintain your strength and lean muscle tissue, as well as get you into labor ready shape. For belly safe arm exercises, take your push-ups to the wall, bring back the arm circle or use a sturdy chair for dips, one arm rows and seated bicep curls.

Third Trimester: Navigating your growing belly may provide challenges at this point. It may be helpful to keep your walks to 10-15 minute intervals and spend more time in pre-natal yoga and Pilates.

Also, take time to practice deep abdominal breathing and focus on strengthening the abdominal wall. You can do this by engaging your deep core muscles by drawing your belly button towards your spine and contracting the muscles of the pelvic floor while seated.

Overall, don’t forget to listen to your body and keep things safe regardless of your preferred exercise routine. Adequate rest is also essential for a healthy pregnancy so take advantage of cat naps while you can.

And, remember to constantly communicate with your physician about your fitness program, drink lots of water and enjoy the special bond you are creating with your growing bundle of joy.