The Sport Information Resource Centre
The Sport Information Resource Centre

For the majority of pregnant women (those without an underlying medical condition), regular physical activity is good for the both mother and baby, physically, mentally and socially. Women should aim to participate in some form of moderate intensity aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you weren’t a very active person before you were pregnant, it’s still good to get exercise but try to avoid activities that are overly strenuous until after your baby is born. When starting out, it’s recommended that you begin with 15 minutes of continuous exercise a week and slowly work up to a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise four times a week.

Exercise* is so beneficial during pregnancy that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pregnant women exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week.

The safest exercises are those that don’t require a lot of balance or coordination such as swimming, brisk walking, weight-training and low-impact aerobics. These types of activities will work for all stages of pregnancy and are easy on the joints and ligaments.

  1. Always make sure you perform warm up and cool down exercises and ensure you are hydrated. Workout in a cool environment since overheating
  2. During pregnancy, the main goal should to be to maintain current fitness levels while avoiding any exertion that could be harmful to you or the baby.
  3. If you attend an exercise class, make sure you inform the instructor you are pregnant and that they are qualified to adjust the exercises as needed.
  4. Participating in a regular exercise routine will help prevent the loss of muscular and cardiovascular fitness, excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension. It also helps reduces the chances you’ll experience physical discomfort such a low-back pain when you are in the later stages of pregnancy.
  5. While exercising during pregnancy won’t guarantee that that delivery will be a breeze, studies have found that fitter women tend to have shorter labors and are less likely to require medical interventions. This also applies to postpartum recovery – the fitter you are the sooner your body will recover physically after delivery.
  6. Listen to your body for potential warning signs during workouts. You should be able to talk while you are working out. Do not exercise to the point that you feel tired.  If you experience dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, contractions or any other unusual discomfort stop the activity immediately and consult your doctor as soon as possible.

It’s important to continue to exercise after your baby is born. Regular exercise can strengthen any muscles that may be weakened after childbirth, help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight, may relieve some of the stress of caring for a newborn and can also enable you to be a role model for your child as you embrace an active way of life.

*Exercise intensity is an important consideration and pregnant women should speak to their doctor about choosing an exercise or activity to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for her individual needs.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Barakat R, Pelaez M, Montejo R, Refoyo I, Coteron J. Exercise Throughout Pregnancy Does not Cause Preterm Delivery: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Journal Of Physical Activity & Health. July 2014;11(5):1012-1017.

2. May L. Exercise During Pregnancy and Post-Partum. ACSM Fit Society Page. October 2014;16(3):3-4.

3. Mottola M, McLaughlin R. Exercise and Pregnancy: Canadian Guidelines for Health Care Professionals. Wellspring. August 2011;22(4):A1-A4.

4. Piper T, Jacobs E, Haiduke M, Waller M, McMillan C. Core Training Exercise Selection During Pregnancy. Strength & Conditioning Journal (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins). February 2012;34(1):55-62.

5. STAN E. PREGNANCY AND AQUATIC AEROBIC ACTIVITY. / GRAVIDITATEA ŞI ACTIVITATEA AEROBICĂ ACVATICĂ. Sport & Society / Sport Si Societate. Mar2014 Special Issue 2014;14:260-268.

6. Zavorsky G, Longo L. Exercise Guidelines in Pregnancy. Sports Medicine. May 2011;41(5):345-360.