At Westchester Health, here’s what we advise pregnant women who ask us if it’s safe to exercise while they’re expecting: if they were physically active before their pregnancy, they can continue their activity in moderation. We firmly believe that maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout a pregnancy can help both the mom-to-be and her baby stay healthy.
As Lauren Adler, MD, a pediatrician in our Westchester Health Pediatrics group, writes in her recent blog, exercising while pregnancy not only helps a woman stay in shape but also helps relieve stress, builds the stamina she’ll need for labor and delivery, and may even prevent gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy).
Recommended: 30-60 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30-60 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day while you’re pregnant, unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication (asthma, heart disease, diabetes, low placenta, history of miscarriage or early labor, weak cervix). However, 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.
Be careful: underdoing it is actually riskier than overdoing 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.
8 exercises you can safely do until delivering
Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you are careful not to overdo it. We recommend the following:
- brisk walking
- 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
11 exercises you should avoid during your 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 make an appointment with Westchester Health to see one of our OB/GYNs. We’re here for you with years of experience, advice and guidance.
To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.