Should You Exercise During Pregnancy?

Should You Exercise During Pregnancy

Yes! Doctors use to restrict the amount and type of exercise pregnant women could do, but that’s all changed.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advocates exercise for pregnant women. In fact, the ACOG recommends pregnant women become active and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. That’s because exercising during your pregnancy improves posture, strength and endurance, helps reduce backaches, and improves your mood and energy. Exercise may also help prevent or treat gestational diabetes.

But how much exercise should you do, and what kind?

“If you are active now, pregnancy need not cause you to alter your fitness routine,” the ACOG book advises. “If you have not been active, now is a good time to start.” Several sports that are safe during pregnancy, even for beginners, include walking, swimming and cycling. Some exercises are safe in moderation for women who did them before pregnancy, such as running and weight training.

But pregnancy will cause changes in your body that will affect your ability to exercise.

Hormones produced during pregnancy, for example, may cause the ligaments to become relaxed, making them susceptible to injury. The extra weight in the front of your body also shifts your center of gravity, which can make you less stable. And the extra weight will make your body work harder than before, so don’t overdo it. The ACOG suggests exercising moderately so you don’t get tired quickly.

So does that mean you should monitor your heart rate when exercising?

That depends on your workout intensity and goals. According to Fit Pregnancy magazine, aiming for a target heart rate can help you work out at an appropriate level. Check out Fit Pregnancy’s Ask the Experts chart to match your fitness level and target heart rate.

Why does this matter to you? If you’re pregnant, or planning on it, exercise will not only help keep you fit during your pregnancy–it will also make it easier for you to get back in shape once the baby’s born. But make sure to check out the ACOG’s general guidelines for a safe and healthy exercise program–and always discuss it with your doctor ahead of time.