Exercise and movement during pregnancy can help you feel like yourself in body and mind. It also helps you prepare for labor and birth and has the added benefit of improving your energy levels and often, moods during pregnancy. For most of those who are pregnant, doctors recommend a moderate amount of exercise. Here, we’ll answer your most frequently asked questions about prenatal exercise and movement.
Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?
For most people, exercise is safe during pregnancy. However, not all types of exercise are equal. It’s important to discuss with your healthcare provider which types of exercise are right for you. Some people with certain medical conditions, such as placenta previa, high blood pressure, or heart and lung disease may be very limited in terms of exercise and should have a detailed discussion with their providers about which activities are safe for them to participate in and specific limitations they have throughout their pregnancy.
What are the benefits of exercise during pregnancy?
Incorporating movement or exercise during your pregnancy has many benefits to your health. Exercise keeps you mobile and strong. Varied types of movement contribute to your flexibility, circulation, and stamina. All of these benefits help minimize some of the symptoms of pregnancy such as backaches, leg cramps, constipation, bloating, and swelling. It’s also been shown to help boost your mood and energy levels and help you sleep better.
Regular exercise and movement during pregnancy can help prepare your body for labor by improving muscle tone, strength, and endurance and may even reduce labor time and lower the chance of an unplanned cesarean.
How much exercise should I be getting?
It’s recommended for most pregnant people to get 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Moderate intensity means your breathing becomes faster and deeper, your heart rate increases, and you break a sweat. An example would be going for a brisk walk. To get your 2 ½ hours of exercise in, try breaking it up by exercising for a half hour each day. You can also try fitting in bursts of 10 minutes of exercise 3 times a day.
What types of exercise should I avoid?
Certain types of exercise, like high-contact sports, are not recommended during pregnancy due to their impact on your growing baby. You should also avoid activities where you could fall and exercise in very hot environments (like hot yoga). If you are exercising to the point of exhaustion or so hard that you can’t talk, you may be pushing it too much. Listen to your body and when it’s telling you to slow down.
Incorporating movement and exercise into your day is important during pregnancy. Going for a walk with a friend or heading over to your favorite yoga class are great ways to get some movement into your daily routine. If you have questions about what kind of exercise is right for you, contact your healthcare provider and they can offer some tips and options. And as always, pay attention to your body’s cues while exercising so you don’t injure or overwork your muscles.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- “Exercise during pregnancy” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. July 2019. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-during-pregnancy
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Pregnancy and exercise: Baby let’s move!” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. March 12, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-exercise/art-20046896
- “Exercise during pregnancy” March of Dimes. March of Dimes. September 2020. https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/exercise-during-pregnancy.aspx
- “Exercise during pregnancy” American Pregnancy. American Pregnancy. n.d. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/is-it-safe/exercise-during-pregnancy/