Moderate exercise
before pregnancy is associated with many positive outcomes for mom and baby, including boosted fertility, less pain while pregnant and lower weight gains during pregnancy. And women whose weight is in a healthy range before pregnancy help lower the risk of serious complications for their babies, such as neural-tube and heart defects.

The details

Among women with underlying medical conditions like
polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)—the most common cause of infertility—an exercise routine and healthy diet can boost fertility.

Having an exercise routine before pregnancy may help keep your pregnancy weight gain in check, too:
A 2010 study found that women who were physically active before getting pregnant gained less weight than women who were not.

Getting in shape before getting pregnant, explains OB-GYN Dr. Shannon M. Clark, founder of the site Babies After 35, “will decrease the risk of developing gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy, and all the potential complications associated with these diseases, in addition to avoiding potential complications during labor and delivery associated with being overweight. Seeing a nutritionist is ideal and can be very helpful.”

All in moderation

Vigorous exercise (such as daily workouts to the point of exhaustion) might actually make some women less fertile,
one study found. The good news? The negative impact on fertility seems to last only as long as the workouts, with fertility returning when workouts because more moderate.

Mamas love

—Working out with a purpose! The boost of motivation you get knowing that you’re getting in shape for baby is invaluable.

—Setting a workout routine before you get pregnant. It makes it easier to stay moving as your belly starts to grow!

—A reason to buy new workout clothes. #truth

The experts say

Women should note their body mass index (BMI) in evaluating their pre-conception fitness: A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. You can
calculate your BMI on an online calculator. But BMI isn’t everything, so talk to your doctor about what a healthy weight range looks like for you.

You’re gonna need…

A workout that is fun or motivating to you—and works with your schedule.

If you haven’t hit anything other than the couch in years, you can still likely get pregnant and have a normal pregnancy. But if you want to do everything you can to ensure a healthy mama and baby, starting a moderate exercise routine can only help.

Want the commitment of a class? Try
SoulCycle, which makes you pay in advance for classes you sign up for (you can cancel up to 5 pm the night before your class).

Want a workout on demand?
Stream a class from Crunch Gym and get your sweat on right now in the comfort of your home. You can also check out free workouts on YouTube on channels like FitnessBlender, Yoga with Adriene, Jessica Smith TV, BeFiT and others.

Looking for something to ease you into working out? Try a beginner-level
yoga class with your best girlfriend. Power meal afterwards? A must.

Have questions? You’re not alone. Here are answers:

“Why should I lose weight before getting pregnant? I’m only going to put it on anyway!”

The experts at Fit Bottomed Girls answer:

“Don’t think of it in terms of just weight. Your goal should be to be as healthy from the inside out as possible before getting pregnant. This may include losing some weight, but it may also include getting stronger, increasing your endurance and eating healthier. Pregnant is difficult enough; anything you can do to be stronger for it will only help you during pregnancy and beyond. (Car seats are HEAVY!)”

“What if I’m totally out of shape? Where do I begin?”

“If you’re a total newbie, just start moving,” says Erin of Fit Bottomed Girls. “Find activities you love and stick with them and do them consistently. If walking is accessible, do it. If it’s throwing in a DVD, do that. Just start building that base and habit of fitness. We’ve got dozens of workouts on
Fit Bottomed Girls, most of which can be done with little equipment at home.”

Or check out our roundup of
5 fun at-home workout programs to get you fit for pregnancy fast.

“How much weight should I gain when pregnant?”

average amount of weight gain recommended during pregnancy is 30 pounds, but that number is lower if you are considered to be overweight when you start your pregnancy.

Long story short, any moderate exercise routine you develop before getting pregnant can have a lifelong positive impact on you and your baby. Whatever motivates you, get out and do it.