Should You Exercise During Pregnancy?

Sep 07, 2023

Where my pregnant ladies at? 

What an insane time of life. Your body goes through so many huge changes during pregnancy. From nearly a 50% increase in your blood volume to fitting a whole human inside you. There is so much to learn during this time and it seems like just when you get used to it, there’s a new change, a new sensation, a new pain and you are left constantly learning and adapting to things that are out of your control. 

And then there are all the suggestions from, well, everyone! Don’t eat lunch meat, only drink about a fist full of coffee, don’t exercise, or exercise but don’t do too much. There is so much information out there on the Do’s and Don’ts of pregnancy. Although you know probably not all the information is sound, all you want is for that little thing inside you to thrive. 

I feel like a lot of new moms get stuck in inaction, especially when it comes to exercise, because there’s so much misinformation about the safety and effects of exercise on pregnancy. Today I want to clear up some misconceptions about exercise and pregnancy.  


Exercise and Pregnancy

First of all you should exercise and stay active during pregnancy. Now, this is not the time to take up Crossfit if you’ve never exercised in your life but maintaining your current level of training or beginning a moderate level exercise program is extremely important. Did you know that less than 15% of pregnant women get the suggested amount of exercise?!

Research suggests pregnant women should get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Exercise is considered moderate when heart rate ranges between 125-146bpm for women under the age of 29 and 121-141bpm for women over the age of 30. They also suggest combining aerobic and resistance training exercises for best outcomes. There are SO many benefits to moderate level exercise while you’re pregnant. Let me fill you in on a couple. 


Benefits of Exercise

  • Fewer newborn complications
  • Decreased risk of preeclampsia
  • Decreased risk of gestational hypertension
  • Decreased risk of gestational diabetes
  • Decreased risk of cesarean section
  • Decreased risk of urinary incontinence
  • Improved blood glucose
  • Decreased back pain


Now let’s blast some misconceptions of exercising while pregnant. 

Physical activity during pregnancy is not associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, preterm birth, low birth weight, birth defects, decreased uterine artery blood flow or preterm rupture of membranes. It is safe and holds huge benefits! There are some rare cases where you shouldn’t exercise during pregnancy so always check with your doctor before you start an exercise program. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s touch on core strengthening. 

Not only have researchers found that strengthening your core during pregnancy decreases back pain but it also helps decrease the risk of abdominal separation during the later stages of pregnancy and results in easier delivery. I’m not talking just doing a couple kegels or pelvic tilts here. It’s ok to train your core like you actually want it to get stronger. With that being said you should make some modifications here as you progress through your pregnancy and you do need to watch for some of the warning signs that you are doing too much. If you need some ideas on how to train your core, let us know. We’d be happy to help.


Exercise Modifications

During the second trimester you shouldn’t lay flat on your back while performing core exercises and during the third trimester horizontal planking and quadruped exercises might not be your best choices due to the increased pull of gravity.


Warning Signs During Exercise

If you are performing exercises and notice “coning or doming” of your stomach during the exercise this just means your muscles are not strong enough to perform that activity and you need to modify. Your core has to work against a lot of changes during pregnancy and it’s vital to keep it strong, especially for women who already train at high levels or with heavy weights. 

What about higher level athletes? Is it safe for competitive athletes to continue to train at such high levels while pregnant? The answer is mostly yes! If you already exercise at a  high level, then it is safe for you to continue to train at high intensities. Research has shown that the fetus tolerates “vigorous” levels of exercise well in highly trained women. So go ahead with your bad self! Obviously as pregnancy progresses you may not be able to tolerate as much and your personal definition of “vigorous” might change, but it’s ok to work up to high levels of fatigue and to continue to challenge your body. 

What about you? Are you pregnant but unsure of what your limits should be when it comes to exercise? It can be scary because, like I said earlier, all you want is for that little baby to thrive and it feels like so much is out of your control. Take comfort in knowing that exercise is going to have huge benefits for you and your baby. It is one thing that you can continue to have control over and you don’t have to fear any negative impacts on your baby.


If you would like someone to come beside you and coach you through this time, check out my online Exercise & Pregnancy Programs. In these programs I will walk you through safe exercise that you can do at home, with minimal equipment, at each stage of your pregnancy. And then, I will show you how to get back to exercise after your pregnancy is over so that you can bounce back fast!

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