Should I Exercise When I’m Pregnant?

date Fri, 01 Oct 2021

Pregnancy and Exercise 

My patients often ask about altering activity in pregnancy, and many are worried about doing anything to jeopardize the health of a pregnancy they have worked so hard to achieve. There are some health conditions like cervical incompetence, placenta previa, risk of preterm labor, and heart and lung disease in the mother where doctors will ask patients to limit exercise. However, the American Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology encourages moderate aerobic and strength conditioning exercises in uncomplicated pregnancies (11). Regular physical activity in pregnancy improves or maintains physical fitness, reduces excessive weight gain in pregnancy, decreases the risk of gestational diabetes, and enhances emotional well-being.

Common exercise in pregnancy guidelines I’ve heard and read include:

  1. Continue the same amount and type of exercise routine in pregnancy as established before pregnancy. Pregnancy is not the right time to train for a marathon for the first time or join a new cross-fit class, but maintaining or slightly decreasing the intensity of a routine you’ve established is most likely okay for you (check with your doctor).

  2. Work out, but watch your heart rate and keep it under (140 or 160 beats per minute). This guideline comes from the theoretical risk of decreasing blood supply to the uterus and pelvis with intense exercise. This is a tough guideline to give to patients, because some intense athletes never get a high heart rate with exercise. An arbitrary number can confuse many patients.

So, talk to your doctor about your personal situation, but in general, with uncomplicated pregnancies – keep moving! Be patient with yourself if your body doesn’t feel the same as pre-pregnancy and if your endurance is diminished. Remember, early pregnancy can lead to fatigue, nausea, and other symptoms that make exercise less appealing. Try to keep moving a little each day or a few times a week, but be kind to yourself and your body.

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