Exercise During Pregnancy


What are some of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), exercise during pregnancy is beneficial in the following ways:

– Helps reduce back pain, constipation, bloating, and swelling
– May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
– Increases your energy
– Improves your mood
– Improves your posture
– Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance
– Helps you sleep better
– Can improve your ability to cope with labor
– May help make it easier to get back into shape postpartum

 

How can I safely exercise during pregnancy?

It is important to receive your doctors permission to exercise. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women without medical or obstetric complications exercise for thirty or more accumulated minutes on all or most days of the week.

ACOG recommends:

– Avoid lying flat on your back after the first trimester
– Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and overheating
– Avoid exercise in hot, humid environments especially in 1st trimester
– Do not exercise to exhaustion during pregnancy
– Pregnant women safely can exercise at pre-pregnancy training levels, but should modify their regimen as needed and listen to their body
– Wear a supportive bra during exercise

 

I did not exercise prior to becoming pregnant. What do you recommend?

I created the DVD workouts charts to provide an easy way to safely exercise during pregnancy at any training level. The workout charts progressively become more challenging with levels. Following the beginner workout chart at Level I, you begin with 15 minute workouts; however, you can always work up to full 15 minute workouts if you find it too strenuous at first. A good rule of thumb is adding 5 minutes to your workout each week. Moreover, make sure to take the modifications and breaks as needed as you are building strength and stamina. You can always pause the DVD player and grab a drink of water as needed.

 

What cardiovascular activities do you recommend in conjunction with your DVD workout? 

Walking, cycling, swimming, and aerobics are safe and beneficial during pregnancy. Running can be continued if you were a runner before becoming pregnant, however, you will need to modify as the pregnancy progresses. Avoid contact sports, scuba diving, downhill skiing, horseback riding, or any activity that places your body as risk of falling. Moreover, avoid activities that include jumping or jarring movements.

 

How do I monitor my intensity during exercise?

The outdated recommendations from 1985 stated that pregnant women should keep their heart rate below 140 BPM.   This is no longer advised!  Because of the variability in maternal heart rate, intensity levels are best measured by relying on the Borg 6-20 point scale Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) verses using a heart rate monitor. Aim to stay between a 12-14 while exercising during pregnancy.

Exercise during pregnancy

 

ACOG recommends that any pregnant woman STOP exercising if they experience any of these symptoms: 

– Vaginal Bleeding
– Dizziness or feeling faint
– Increased shortness of breath
– Chest pain
– Headache
– Muscle weakness
– Calf pain or swelling
– Uterine contractions
– Decreased fetal movement
– Fluid leaking from the vagina

 

Regardless of previous training level, pregnant women should not be exercising if she has any of the following contraindications:

– Pregnancy-induced hypertension
– Preterm Rupture of placenta membranes
– Preterm labor during the current pregnancy or previous pregnancies
– Incompetent cervix
– Persistent bleeding during the second or third trimester
– Intrauterine growth retardation