Pregnancy & Exercise

One of the more common misconceptions about pregnancy is that women should not be exercising due to the extra weight they are already carrying around on a daily basis. While future mothers are expendining more energy and are considerably more tired, exercise still has a positive impact on pregnancies. Regular exercise can reduce some negative symptoms of pregnancy such as backaches, swelling, and bloating. It can also help with mood swings, boost energy levels, maintain weight, and help sleep better.



It is important that before a pregnant woman starts a new workout program or plan, they talk to their doctor to ensure that it is safe for both themselves and the baby. Some doctors would not recommend exercising while pregnant if you also struggle with placenta problems, vaginal bleeding, heart or lung disease, issues with the cervix, severe anemia, previous preterm labor, or high blood pressure. Exercising while having some of these conditions can cause harm and issues with the pregnancy.


Exercising five to six days a week for 30 minutes can maximize health benefits. It is important to warm up, stretch, and stay hydrated. Drinking a sufficient amount of water throughout the entire day and night will prevent dehydration during a workout. For beginners, it could be beneficial to start with as little as 10 minutes a day. It is important to not start with strenuous and exhausting exercise because the body is not used to that. It is essential to begin with a moderate activity such as walking or water aerobics, which would be easy on the joints. Other activities could include stationary biking, modified yoga, and modified pilates. With any of these exercises, be sure to not lie on your back for an extended period of time.


Mothers who were used to working out before pregnant should be able to exercise at the frequency and intensity they did before as long as there is no pain. Many runners and joggers continue their training while pregnant. Growing up, I frequently participated in trail running. Sometimes, I would see pregnant women running and question if that was safe for the baby. Little did I know that frequent exercise pre, during, and post pregnancy can help the overall well being of the child and mother.



While most moderate exercise is safe while pregnant, there are a few things that you should avoid. Any contact sports that have a risk of getting hit could include soccer, basketball, and tennis. Getting hit, especially in the abdomen, could cause harm to the child and mother. It is also important to avoid sports that could have a risk of falling, this could include horseback riding, skiing, surfing, and off-road cycling. Hot yoga and pilates should also be avoided as the mother could overheat and have major health complications with increased blood pressure. Some signs that a pregnant women should stop exercising are feeling dizzy, chest pains, swelling, fluid coming from the vagina, headaches, and painful contractions. Another precaution to take in is to consider that a woman’s hormones while pregnant makes their joints relax. This could make them even more prone to injury than a non-pregnant woman.


It is important to continue exercise post pregnancy because there are many health benefits. Many mothers struggle with postpartum depression and regular exercise releases endorphins, which help boost overall mood and well being. Some women suffer from deep vein thrombosis post pregnancy, and continuous exercise increases blood circulation in the body and can help prevent that. Also, exercising could help with losing the extra weight that a mother likely gained during pregnancy.


Many people hear of exercise having many health benefits for people of all ages, genders, and sizes. Mothers tend to stop exercising or take the time of pregnancy to relax because it is already doing a toll on their own body. Many health benefits stem from consistent exercise, so putting in the extra 30 minutes is not only worth it for the mother, but the future health of the child.



https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-exercise/art-20046896

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy?IsMobileSet=false

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002937800702158


Blog Provided by Anna Colagrossi

© 2020 by Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics | Terms | Privacy Policies  | Contact