Exercising During Pregnancy
Exercising during pregnancy
has been associated
with better weight control,
lower risk of diabetes, lower risk of high blood pressure,
self-esteem, and faster recovery after giving birth.
If you pregnant, physically active, and wondering if you can safely continue exercising until your child is born, or if are you are inactive and concerned about exercising, here is information that can help you.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), women who are in good health and active can continue exercising during pregnancy with some changes as the birth date approaches.1,2 In most cases, healthy pregnant women can engage in moderate aerobic exercise 3 or 4 times per week throughout pregnancy and after the baby is born. Experienced exercisers often can continue an established exercise routine;1,2 however, it's important to tell your obstetrician about your exercise, including its duration and intensity.
Talk with your doctor first before beginning
or continuing with exercise once you are pregnant.
Physiologic changes during pregnancy that can affect your exercise routine include:
- Weight gain as a result of the growing fetus, placenta, amniotic fluid, and increased blood volume
- Changes in balance and coordination as a result of added and newly distributed weight
- Additional weight and pressure on the lower back (lumbar spine), hips, knees, ankles, and feet
- Lower resting and maximal heart rate and lower blood pressure, especially during the second and third trimesters, which can make you feel dizzy if you get up quickly
- Ligaments that stretch more easily, especially those in the pelvis that might lead to joint instability
- Being warmer overall as a result of having a higher body temperature, which is associated with risk of overheating and dehydration
Exercising during pregnancy can help:3
- Increase your energy level
- Stabilize and boost your mood
- Improve your sleep
- Reduce backache, stress, and constipation
- Strengthen muscles that are useful during childbirth
- Maintain a healthy weight throughout pregnancy
- Prevent diabetes that can develop during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)3,4
- Ensure a quick return to prepregnancy weight and shape
Best exercises during pregnancy include low-impact aerobic and stress-relieveing exercise such as:2,3
Experienced, fit runners often can continue running during pregnancy; however, it is important to check with your doctor to know whether running is safe for you and your baby. To minimize stress on joints and help prevent varicose veins, many doctors recommend that runners taper off running and replace it with brisk walking during the latter weeks of pregnancy.
Exercising 30 minutes a day
can help keep you and your baby healthy
during and after pregnancy!1
To ensure your and your baby's safety, avoid activities with a high risk of falling, a high risk of injuries, jarring motions that can injure joints, muscles, and ligaments, and activities that involve being at a high-altitude or under excessive pressure, including:2,3
- Contact sports such as soccer, basketball, and hockey
- Downhill snow skiing
- Horseback riding
- Lifting heavy weights
- Scuba diving
- Water skiing
When you exercise:
Begin moderately and increase the intensity of your workout with attention to any symptoms
- If you are new to exercise, walk at a moderate pace 5 to 10 minutes per day on a flat surface and work up to 30 minutes a day
- If you are an experienced, high-intensity exerciser, your goal should be to maintain rather than increase your fitness
- Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing and a good support bra
- Wear properly fitting sneakers
- Drink plenty of water
Avoid getting overheated during the warm months by:
- Exercising inside in air conditioning
- Exercising outside early in the morning or in the evening when it is cooler to avoid getting overheated
After the first trimester, when your weight and center of balance have changed:
- Avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back
- Consider swimming and water aerobics, which are easy on the joints
- Consider taking a gym class designed for pregnant women
Eat to ensure your baby is getting the nutrition he or she needs to develop properly
- Inactive pregnant women need about 3000 calories per day during the second and third trimesters
- Physically active expectant mothers need more than 3000 calories per day to offset calories burned during exercise
Your obstetrician can guide you about ideal weight gain
and exercise that is best for you and your baby.
If you are feeling winded or tired during exercise, stop and rest. If you experience symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, watery vaginal discharge, unusual shortness of breath, dizziness, feeling faint, chest pain, headache, muscle weakness, uterine contractions, and less movement from the baby, contact your doctor immediately.1,3
Always check with your obstetrician
if you have questions or concerns during your pregnancy.
Talk with your Summit Medical Group Obstetrician
to learn more about exercising safely during pregnancy.
1. ACOG Committee on Obstetrics Practice. Committee Opinion. Exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Exercise-During-Pregnancy-and-the-Postpartum-Period. Accessed September 28, 2014.
2. Artal R, Clapp J, Vigil D. ACSM Current Comment Exercise During Pregnancy. American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/exerciseduringpregnancy.pdf?sfvrsn=4. Accessed September 28, 2014.
3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Exercise during pregnancy. Frequently asked questions FAQ0119 pregnancy
http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq119.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120219T2315308141. Accessed September 28, 2014.
4. American Diabetes Association. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2014. Diabetes Care. 2014; 37(1); S14-S80.