Exercise during pregnancy

Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle and most pregnant women can and should exercise. Exercise provides many benefits to all people. Pregnant women are no exception. These benefits include:

  • Helping your body be strong and fit for labour and birth
  • Helping you sleep better
  • Helping prevent you from gaining excess weight
  • Boosting your mood and your energy level
  • Helping with constipation
  • Reducing backache
  • Reducing the likelihood of getting gestational diabetes

How much exercise should I get while I’m pregnant?

Unless you have a complication that prevents you from exercising (see below), all pregnant women should be physically active throughout pregnancy.  This is true even if you were previously inactive or are overweight or obese. Pregnant women should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week. You should aim to participate in some sort of physical activity at least 3 days a week, and up to 7 days a week. Exercise is most beneficial when you do a variety of aerobic exercise and resistance training activities.

What are the best choices for exercise in pregnancy?

Most pregnant women should strive for 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Choose activities that minimize your risk of contact with others or falling. Good options are exercises that you are already accustomed to like walking, swimming, low-impact aerobics, stationary cycling, and moderate strength training. Adding yoga or gentle stretching can also be beneficial. Pelvic floor muscle training (e.g., Kegel exercises) can be performed every day to reduce the risk of urinary incontinence. It’s important to warm up, cool down, and stay hydrated. If it’s very hot out, use caution. You don’t want to overheat because your baby has no way to cool itself. Try to keep the intensity in the zone where you can still hold a conversation and never exercise to exhaustion.

What complications can prevent pregnant women from exercising?

There are some situations in which exercise is not recommended for pregnant women. In most of these circumstances maintaining normal activity is fine and bedrest would not be recommended. These situations include:

  • Ruptured membranes
  • Preterm labour
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened cervix
  • Growth-restricted fetus
  • Preeclampsia
  • Multiple pregnancy of triplets or more
  • Placenta previa after the 28th week
  • Vaginal bleeding in the 2nd or 3rd trimester
  • Severe anemia
  • Other diseases (uncontrolled type 1 Diabetes, thyroid disease, heart disease, lung disease)