Dragging your body around to do anything when you’re pregnant is hard enough, but to motivate yourself to exercise – ha! Isn’t pregnancy a time for sitting comfortably on the sofa with your feet firmly off the ground and your hand firmly in a bag of chocolates? Well, I’d like to convince you otherwise.

I’m happy to share that it’s widely accepted (and more importantly, recommended by midwives and doctors) that embarking on an exercise program while pregnant is more than just a good idea – it’s a way to keep your body and mind focused on the job at hand: first class baby baking.

Here’s why:

1. During exercise, your body sends signals of calm and exuberance to your baby, canceling out the stress hormones (technical term: cortisol levels) that are heightened during pregnancy.

2. Not only does exercise make you feel better emotionally, it also helps reduce the likelihood of injuries or those common complaints we all read about: backache, water retention, sciatica (pains down the sides of your legs), difficulty sleeping, losing balance, weight gain... I can go on and on.

3. Providing that you aren’t jumping out of a plane or climbing bare rock faces unaided, exercising poses no risk of harm to your baby. It’s even perfectly fine to start a new form of exercise. Most pregnant women opt for Pilates, yoga, swimming, or walking. These are more gentle options than running or a spinning class, but still extremely effective.

4. You can feel comfortable in the knowledge that your body isn’t going to give up on you during labor.

5. Your body will bounce back a lot more quickly after all these fun 9 months are over.

6. You won’t feel or look like a beached whale 24/7.

7. You can keep varicose veins, backaches, and fat ankles at bay.

I know what you’re thinking: “But when am I supposed to find time to fit exercise into my day? I’m at work for 10 hours, asleep for 8, and I need to eat, wind down, and relax.” By my calculations, that still leaves you with at least an hour, three times a week, to do some exercise. I promise you (and I don’t promise things lightly, let me tell you!) that your body, your pregnancy, your labor, and your mind will all thank you for it in the long run.

And if you think you have no time before the baby arrives... boy, are you in for a shock when the little one finally graces you with its presence!!

AUTHOR BIO: Pilates TV pregnancy expert Tasha Lawton created the ‘Pregalates’ series, a set of world first trimester specific Pilates for Pregnancy workouts. The DVDs are available online at Pregalates.com .