Learning Guides & Resources

Pregnancy and Prenatal Fitness

prenatal fitness

Essential Takeaways

  • A prenatal exercise routine is healthy both for you and your baby
  • Check with your OB before starting a new workout routine
  • Not only is exercise safe for most women during pregnancy, regular exercise can help with healthy weight gain and reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes and other pregnancy complications

After a positive pregnancy test, most women begin anticipating big changes, not only in their bodies but in their entire lives. Immediately, it’s common to begin focusing on physical health and well-being. While at one point, the typical instructions were to slow down and rest during pregnancy, this is no longer recommended. Assuming that a woman’s health is good, it’s possible and beneficial to exercise throughout pregnancy.

Safety Concerns

It’s always prudent to see a physician after becoming pregnant, and at that time, you can ask whether exercise is safe for you and your unborn baby. Get recommendations from your physician for safe exercises you can do during pregnancy.

In healthy women, exercise doesn’t increase the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, or low birth weight.

How Much Exercise Do You Need While Pregnant?

Pregnant women in good health who are having low-risk pregnancies should strive to get at least two and a half hours of exercise at a moderate intensity each week. Moderate intensity means that the heart rate is increased somewhat and you are sweating.

  • Take a brisk walk to get your blood moving and heart pumping.
  • Try swimming or even dancing as a form of exercise.

The Benefits of Staying Active While Pregnant

Getting regular exercise helps women feel healthier both emotionally and physically. Exercise is also beneficial for unborn babies.

  • You should be able to control your pregnancy weight gain with regular exercise.
  • Common discomforts of pregnancy are often alleviated with exercise.
  • Pregnant mothers may sleep better when they exercise.
  • Pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are often less common in mothers who exercise.

What Kinds of Exercises and Activities Can You Do (and Which Should You Avoid)?

If you were already exercising when you got pregnant, you can probably continue with the same exercises after checking with your doctor. Look for exercises that you enjoy.

  • Brisk walking should not strain muscles and joints.
  • Swimming is a low-impact exercise that often alleviates aches and pains.
  • Riding a stationary bike gives you the benefit of cycling without the danger of falling.
  • Prenatal yoga, Pilates, and low-impact aerobics classes can be specifically targeted for pregnant mothers.
  • Strength training helps you build and maintain muscle.
  • Avoid exercises that involve jerky or bouncy movements and anything that might involve falling.
  • Avoid high-contact sports.
  • Avoid lying flat on your back during the third trimester.
  • Don’t skydive, scuba dive, or exercise at high altitudes during pregnancy.
  • Don’t allow yourself to get overheated during exercise.

Learn More

Ava Editorial

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