Pregnant or planning a pregnancy? If so, how have you worked exercise into your prenatal care? During pregnancy, exercise can reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling; boost mood and energy; promote muscle tone, strength, and endurance; and improve sleep quality. It can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, too. Pregnant women who exercise may also have an easier time with labor and delivery and weight loss after childbirth.
Most pregnant women should aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. Contrary to what you may have heard, there’s no magical heart rate or beats per minute threshold for pregnant women during exercise. Just keep in mind that if you can’t talk at normal levels at all times, you may be working too hard and need to reduce your intensity. Talk to your doctor before beginning or continuing an exercise program to be sure you don’t have any health problems that would limit your activity.
A few tips to remember:
- Gentle exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling, or low-impact or water aerobics is suitable for exercisers of all levels.
- Avoid contact sports and activities that could injure your abdomen such as soccer.
- Skip activities that come with a high risk of falling, such as downhill skiing, horseback riding, or vigorous racquet sports.
- Stop exercising and call your doctor if you experience dizziness or feel faint, increased shortness of breath, uneven or rapid heartbeat, chest pain, trouble walking, vaginal bleeding, calf pain or swelling, headache, uterine contractions that continue after you rest, fluid leaking or gushing from your vagina, or decreased fetal movement.
- Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and a supportive bra and shoes.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and overheating.
Getting moving is the most important part, so pick an activity you enjoy and have fun!Read more about exercise during pregnancy in ACOG’s Patient FAQ.