Exercise During Pregnancy
Best Exercise Routines For Pregnant Women

Health Topics


Working Out In Pregnancy


Is It Safe To Exercise In Pregnancy?
How Long Should I Exercise For?
What Are The Benefits?
What Are The Best Exercises In Pregnancy?
Which Exercises Should I Avoid?
How Do I Know If I Have Exercised Too Much?
What Heart Rate Should I Aim For?
Exercise Tips

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Pregnancy Guide
Prenatal Care Guide
Is It Safe To Exercise In Pregnancy?

Yes, exercise is considered a normal and healthy activity to perform during pregnancy. Before exercising, remember it is important to talk to your pregnancy healthcare team. As with anything in life, moderation is the key and certain exercises will be more suitable than others. Furthermore, women with a history of miscarriages should seek advice before doing any exercise in the first trimester.

How Long Should I Exercise For?

Half an hour of moderate exercise a day is sufficient for most women. Of course if you were very fit before pregnancy your doctor may allow up to an hour a day to maintain your fitness level. Most women find they have to taper off some time in the third trimester, particularly by the last month.

What Are The Benefits?

Top 5 benefits:

1. It helps energize you (although we know this sounds contradictory).
2. Helps you sleep better.
3. Reduces the risk of pregnancy back pain. Even a short 10 minute walk is enough.
4. Stretching helps reduce the number of pregnancy cramps you get.
5. It may help reduce your risk of gestational diabetes (diabetes that starts in pregnancy).

What Are The Best Exercises In Pregnancy?

Kegels are exercises done to work the pelvic floor muscles which surround the vagina, rectum and urethra. Strengthening these muscles can help you have an easier vaginal birth, and reduce the risks of bladder leaks and hemorrhoids in pregnancy. They also help to promote perineal healing after childbirth.
What are kegels?
How do you do pelvic floor exercises?
How many pelvic floor exercises should you do a day?

Walking about 30 minutes a day is safe for both mom and baby. It's easier on the body than jogging (which may actually be detrimental to bone formation in your fetus). You can split your schedule into two 15 minute sessions if that is more convenient. Be sure to wear supportive shoes to reduce your risk of falling.

Many experts agree that swimming is the safest form of exercise in pregnancy. In water you weigh just one tenth of your actual weight, so it is a perfect way to stretch your body without stressing your joints. Many women report it also helps to reduce swelling in their legs and reduces back pain. Most gyms offer water aerobic classes aimed at expectant moms. Ideally stick to working out in chlorinated pools.

The nice thing about cycling is that the bike supports your weight. Ideally stick to a stationary bike to reduce your risk of falling. While falling is never good, it is more dangerous in pregnancy. Don't lean forward on the bike in a racing position because it stresses your lower back. As your tummy grows it may be more difficult to continue this form of exercise.

Running And Jogging
Pregnancy is never a good time to start a new exercise, but if you are already an experienced runner or jogger, you can continue to do so in pregnancy. However, you may want to limit your distances and stick to level grounds (no uphill’s, or alternatively consider using a treadmill). Be aware, loosening ligaments and joints in pregnancy can make running more difficult and increase your risk of injury.

Exercise Machines
Stair climbing machines, treadmills and cross trainers are all fine to use. You may however find that you have to stop in the third trimester if you stumble more because you can't see your feet.

Yoga is a great tool for learning how to relax, focus and breath properly - a perfect training ground for childbirth. It also increases the oxygen in circulation in your body, benefiting your baby. Ideally choose a class specially designed for pregnant women. You won't be able to lie flat on your back after week 20 much, so certain positions will need to be adapted. Avoid Bikram yoga which is done in a hot room.

Pilates is similar to yoga, but takes a little longer to learn (if you are not feeling patient, yoga may be a better option!).

Weight Training
You can use light weights to maintain muscle tone, but it is important to avoid heavy weights - that is, weights that cause heavy breathing or grunting.

Which Exercises Should I Avoid?

Skiing and snowboarding
Water skiing
Horseback riding
Scuba diving
Mountain biking
Any contact sports

How Do I Know If I Have Exercised Too Much?

Stop exercising immediately and contact your doctor if you experience any of the following:

• Unusual pain
• Vaginal bleeding
• Lightheadedness or dizziness
• Contractions
• Racing heartbeat (palpitations) or chest pain
• Muscle cramps
• Fluid leaking from your vagina

Related Articles
How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?

What Heart Rate Should I Aim For?

If you are monitoring your heart rate during exercise, aim to keep it under 140 beats a minute. This will prevent overheating. Any exercise that raises your body temperature by more than 1.5 degrees causes blood to be diverted away from the womb to the skin as the body tries to cool down. Overheating is particularly risky in the first trimester.

Exercise Tips

• Drink water before you exercise (even if you are not thirsty) to avoid becoming dehydrated later. Drink some more at the end of your workout (but not more than half a liter in total).
• After exercising eat a small low-calorie snack, a banana is ideal, to help keep your blood sugar levels stable.
• Invest in a sports bra, your breasts will need the extra support.
• Don’t lie on your back after 20 weeks to exercise. The weight of your uterus could constrict major blood vessels and cut off circulation.
• Avoid jumping, bouncing, sudden jerky movements and anything that requires you to bend over backwards.
• Avoid sitting (watching TV for example) for long periods of time or it could cause swelling in your legs. For every hour sitting, aim to walk around for 5 minutes.

  Related Articles on Exercising

For more tips, see the following:

Postpartum exercises: Looking ahead, regaining your figure.
Pregnancy diet: What to eat, diet plan and nutrients.
Pregnancy tips: The do's and don't. Useful advice.

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