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Exercise during pregnancy

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If you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it is safe to continue or start regular physical activity.

Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery.

It’s still important to discuss exercise with your obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn) during your early prenatal visits.

If your ob-gyn gives you the nod to exercise, you can discuss what activities you can do safely.

Conditions that make exercise during pregnancy unsafe

Women with the following conditions or pregnancy complications should not exercise during pregnancy:

Certain types of heart and lung diseases

Being pregnant with twins or triplets (or more) with risk factors for pre-term labour

Placenta pre via after 26 weeks of pregnancy

Pre-term labour during this pregnancy or ruptured membranes (your water has broken)

Pre-eclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure

Severe anaemia

Benefits of exercising during pregnancy

Regular exercise during pregnancy benefits you and your foetus in these key ways:

Reduces back pain

Eases constipation

May decrease your risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and caesarean birth

Promotes healthy weight gain during pregnancy

Improves your overall fitness and strengthens your heart and blood vessels

Helps you to lose the baby weight after your baby is born

How much to exercise during pregnancy

Ideally, pregnant women should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.

An aerobic activity is one in which you move large muscles of the body (like those in the legs and arms) in a rhythmic way.

Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating. You still can talk normally, but you cannot sing.

Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity include brisk walking and general gardening (raking, weeding, or digging).

You can divide the 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts on five days of the week or into smaller 10-minute work-outs throughout each day.

If you are new to exercise, start out slowly and gradually increase your activity.

Begin with as little as five minutes a day.

Add five minutes each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day.

If you were very active before pregnancy, you can keep doing the same workouts with your ob-gyn’s approval.

But if you start to lose weight, you may need to increase the number of calories that you eat.

Body changes that affect exercise during pregnancy

Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy.

It is important to choose exercises that take these changes into account:

Joints —The hormones made during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to become relaxed. This makes the joints more mobile and at risk of injury.

Avoid jerky, bouncy, or high-impact motions that can increase your risk of being hurt.

Balance — The extra weight in the front of your body shifts your centre of gravity.

This places stress on joints and muscles, especially those in your pelvis and lower back.

Because you are less stable and more likely to lose your balance, you are at greater risk of falling.

Breathing —When you exercise, oxygen and blood flow are directed to your muscles and away from other areas of your body.

While you are pregnant, your need for oxygen increases.

This may affect your ability to do strenuous exercise, especially if you are overweight or obese.

Precautions to take

Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout.

Signs of dehydration include dizziness, a racing or pounding heart, and urinating only small amounts or having urine that is dark yellow.

Wear a sports bra that gives lots of support to help protect your breasts.

Later in pregnancy, a belly support belt may reduce discomfort while walking or running.

Avoid becoming overheated, especially in the first trimester.

Drink plenty of water, wear loose-fitting clothing, and exercise in a temperature-controlled room.

Do not exercise outside when it is very hot or humid.

Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back as much as possible.

When you lie on your back, your uterus presses on a large vein that returns blood to the heart.

Standing motionless can cause blood to pool in your legs and feet.

These positions may cause your blood pressure to decrease for a short time. —