Fitness minded mommies-to-be often ask questions like “Can I keep exercising?” and “What kind of restrictions do I have for exercise?”. There are only a handful of studies published that look specifically at scientific data on exercise and pregnancy.

For years, pregnant patients were advised to avoid exercise for fear of it increasing the risk of miscarriage or preterm labor. Others were told to monitor their heart rate and not to exceed a certain threshold. Most of these recommendations were made on intuition rather than actual scientific data.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecology recommends at 30 minutes of exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. Some of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy are:

    1. Reduced backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
    2. Reduced risk or treatment of gestational diabetes
    3. Increased energy, improved mood and sleep
    4. Improved posture
    5. Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance

During pregnancy, many changes in the body occur that can affect a woman’s ability to exercise. The hormone relaxin is produced that helps reduce tension on ligaments that support joints, especially in the pelvis. This makes joints more mobile and can increase the risk of injury.

As the uterus expands, a woman’s center of gravity shifts forward, putting more strain on the lower back. This change can make the body less stable. In some cases, a patient’s balance can be affected.

Acceptable forms of exercise during pregnancy include:

    • Walking
    • Swimming
    • Cycling
    • Elliptical machines

Any preexisting work-out regimen should be mentioned to the patient’s doctor to be evaluated.

With any exercise, listen to your body. Don’t overwork yourself. Go off of “feel” rather than a specific heart rate benchmark or time limit. Prenatal yoga can help strengthen core muscles and is relatively safe and low impact.

Avoid:

    • water skiing
    • horseback riding
    • snow skiing
    • contact sports
    • Other activities with high risk of falling

As with any exercise, it is crucial to drink plenty of water to avoid becoming overheated or dehydrated. If an activity hurts, stop or slow down.

Cease exercising and contact your doctor if you experience:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness, fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina

Women that are considered “high-risk” pregnancies should consult their doctor before starting any exercise regimen.

Don’t let pregnancy be a mystery. Contact us with any further questions.

(Source: American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecology)