How Much Should I Exercise While Pregnant?

This is a question we hear a lot from our pregnant patients and what we tell them is that exercise is good for them and their baby!

If you were physically active before your pregnancy, continue your activity in moderation

Lauren Adler_02R WEB72
Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

Maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout your pregnancy can help both you and your baby stay healthy. It can also decrease some common discomforts such as backaches, muscle cramps and fatigue. At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we firmly believe that not only will exercising during your pregnancy help you stay in shape, it helps relieve stress, builds the stamina you’ll need for labor and delivery, and may even prevent gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy).

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30-60 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day while pregnant, unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication (asthma, heart disease, diabetes, low placenta, history of miscarriage or early labor, weak cervix). You can break up the time into shorter sessions if you like.

Before working out, be sure to let your trainer or exercise instructor know that you’re pregnant so that he/she can adjust your program and moves/positions accordingly.

If you haven’t exercised regularly before getting pregnant, you can still follow an exercise program while you’re expecting after consulting with your OB/GYN. It’s probably not a good idea to start a new, strenuous workout routine, but walking is considered safe to while pregnant even you weren’t exercising beforehand.

What’s riskier than overdoing it is underdoing it

It is actually more hazardous to your health not to exercise while pregnant. This contributes to excess weight gain, high blood pressure, aches and pains, and a higher risk for Cesarean section and gestational diabetes. Approximately 70-80% of women with gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes later in life, and their babies are themselves more likely to become overweight and develop diabetes. So as we tell our pregnant patients, get moving!

Safe exercises you can do up until delivery

Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you are careful not to overdo it. We recommend the following:

  • swimming
  • brisk walking
  • yoga
  • indoor stationary cycling
  • step or elliptical machines
  • low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor)
  • jogging (in moderation, especially if you were doing this before your pregnancy)
  • strength and toning exercises, such as Pilates

Exercises to avoid during pregnancy

Be aware that there are certain exercises and activities that can be harmful if performed during pregnancy, including:

  • holding your breath during any activity
  • sports where falling is likely (such as skiing, ice skating or horseback riding)
  • contact sports such as softball, football, basketball and volleyball
  • any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma, jarring motions or rapid changes in direction
  • activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing or running
  • deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises and straight-leg toe touches
  • bouncing while stretching
  • waist-twisting movements while standing
  • heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity
  • exercising in hot, humid weather

Want to know more about exercising while pregnant? Come see us.

If you want more information on how exercising while pregnant benefits you and your baby, or if you have questions about labor and delivery or any other aspects of having a baby, please come in and talk with us. We’re here for you with years of experience, advice and guidance.

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By Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, Lead Pediatric Physician with Westchester Health Pediatrics, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners