Should I Exercise During Pregnancy?

AFS EducationAFS Education Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner admin

When you find out that you are pregnant, there are many questions that you have. You want to do whatever you can to keep you and your baby safe. Because of this, mo women will err on the side of caution and restrict activities that they may typically engage in during their normal daily lives. While some restrictions are encouraged, exercise is normally not one of them.

Won’t I experience more symptoms and feel more tired if I use my energy exercising?

According to a study from the American College of Sports Medicins (ACSM), women who exercise during pregnancy report fewer symptoms, such as nausea, heartburn, leg cramps and insomnia, than those who are less active. This same study showed that women who stop exercising well into their pregnancy had more symptoms after activity level decreased. This illustrates that it is not necessarily that women who have fewer symptoms are able to exercise, but that exercising actually helps to reduce or even prevent some symptoms! This has been shown time and again both in research, and also in our experiences with clients.

What exercise should I avoid during pregnancy?

The major exercises that should be avoided during pregnancy are ones that will require you to use your balance, such as lunging with a twist and push up to side plank. At around 15 weeks, your balance will start to be affected by the weight you are gaining and should be taken into consideration when choosing an exercise. Also due to weight gain, by the end of the second trimester, most women will start to feel light headed while lying on their back. So an exercise putting you in this position should be modified.

If I exercise will it really be easier for me to bounce back to my pre-pregnancy weight?

While weight gain is something that is going to happen during pregnancy, gaining too much weight can be unhealthy as well. Keep in mind the suggested healthy weight gain during pregnancy is 20-30lbs. Depending on your weight going into pregnancy, your doctor may suggest gaining more or less than this.

A study done by Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio found that women who exercise still gained a healthy amount of weight and body fat percentage and were able to deliver normal weight babies. For women who did not continue exercising once becoming pregnant there was a larger increase in fat stores. These fat deposits were thought to have occurred simply because of the calorie surplus these women were now in as a result of the lack of exercise.

If you can keep off this extra fat that is often gained, but not needed, it is more likely that you will be able to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight and body fat percentage more quickly.

If I am not exercising now, can I start once becoming pregnant?

If you are not someone who regularly exercises, pregnancy is not the best time to start. However, this is also a situation where something is better than nothing. Engaging in activities like taking daily walks and staying active can help you through your pregnancy as well.

Final thoughts

While exercising during pregnancy can help you feel better, keep you feeling fit, and help you lose pregnancy weight more quickly, remember that any exercise you are doing should be approved by your doctor. Talk to both your doctor and Fitness Practitioner about any discomfort that you are having during exercise and we can help to make any additional modification(s) to your exercise routine. Generally, it is safe to continue previous levels of activity into your pregnancy, but again, consult with your doctor first.

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