Exercise During Pregnancy
January 8, 2014
The conversation surrounding exercise and pregnancy is as heated and divisive as ever.
Some insist on a completely sedentary nine months as the best course while others see no problem in exercising throughout the entire pregnancy.
So who is right?
Let’s set the record straight once and for all by exploring the latest research on exercising during pregnancy.
Is It Okay To Exercise During Pregnancy?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, you always want to speak with your healthcare provider before beginning or continuing an exercise routine during pregnancy.
However, if you already exercise, there is a good chance you will be able to maintain your current workout regimen and adapt it over time.
One study published in Medicine and Science in Exercise examined the benefits and risks associated with a regimen designed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for exercise during pregnancy.
Inactive women were split into a group that remained sedentary throughout the study and a group that performed 45-60 min 4 days per week through 36 week gestation. Each group had 31 subjects.
It was concluded previously sedentary women who began exercising improved fitness and delivery outcomes.
Additional guideline recommendations for exercise during pregnancy include keeping heart rate under 140 beats per minutes and avoiding overheating, especially in the first trimester.
What Are the Best Exercises During Pregnancy?
Mayo Clinic recommends performing pregnancy exercises to improve core strength, tone muscles, and prepare for labor.
A few exercises recommended by the Mayo Clinic staff include:
This exercise targets pectoral and triceps muscles. After facing a wall, place hands a little wider than shoulder width apart. Also keep knees at a comfortable distance apart.
Keeping back straight, slowly bend elbows and lower chest towards the wall until your chin reaches it. Return to the starting position, gradually working up to 15 repetitions.
Seated Rowing With Resistance Band
This exercise targets upper back muscles . First, sit on an exercise ball and place a resistance band underneath the arch in each foot. Hold on to the resistance band’s handles, keeping palms facing each other.
Pull the resistance band straight back with your elbows in a rowing motion.
Squats With Fitness Ball
This exercise strengthens lower body and core. Place a fitness ball behind your back and against the wall.
Keeping knees bent and feet about shoulder width apart, slide down until knees reach a 90-degree angle. Return to the starting position and repeat, gradually working up to 10 repetitions.
Other safe and beneficial exercises to perform during pregnancy include swimming, walking, and yoga.
Is Exercising During Pregnancy Dangerous?
If you have any of the following conditions, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises abstaining from aerobic exercise:
- Heart disease that significantly affects the way blood circulates in your body
- Lung disease, such as severe asthma or chronic bronchitis
- Cervical insufficiency/cerclage (premature dilation)
- Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks
What’s more you should stop exercise during pregnancy if you experience vaginal bleeding, dizziness, faintness, shortness of breath, headache, or chest pain.
-  Price BB, Amini SB, Kappeler K. “Exercise in pregnancy: effect on fitness and obstetric outcomes-a randomized trial Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Dec;44(12):2263-9. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318267ad67”
-  “Exercise and Pregnancy.” American Pregnancy Association.
-  The Mayo Clinic “Pregnancy Week By Week.”
-  Baby Center “When not to exercise during pregnancy.” Reviewed by the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board updated April 2013.