Once and For All: Should You Exercise While Pregnant?

A lot of women change their entire lifestyle when they are pregnant: they change their diet, their sleeping patterns, and they even give up on unhealthy habits, all to protect the baby.

But there is one thing a lot of pregnant women are hesitant about doing: exercising. For many years, the consensus was that pregnant women should take it easy and that elevating your heart rate can harm the baby in the long run.

That made women reduce their activity level, as they opted for staying at home and have fun with a movie or Thunderbolt casino bonuses, instead of going out. However, in the past decade or so, scientists and doctors researched the issue thoroughly, concluding that exercise is beneficial both to the expecting mother and the fetus. But has this revelation changed public opinion?

According to a survey conducted by a popular women’s blog, more than half of the respondents gave up on exercising during pregnancy. The reasons behind the decision include general tiredness, fear of harming the baby, and contradictory advice they got regarding the matter.

In another study, conducted back in 2010, it was discovered that only 14% and 23% of women met recommendations for physical activity. Those are some shocking figures!

A lot of people still believe that exercising during pregnancy can cause premature labor and the risk of delivering smaller infants. While studies show that this notion is incorrect, that doesn’t mean the public is aware of the shift in the approach towards exercise.

That serves to show that the medical staff those women meet throughout their pregnancy is not able to convey the importance of staying active before the baby is born. Maybe some physicians still hold on to old-school opinions, or maybe they don’t address the issue as often as they should.

But at the end of the day, the situation is that many pregnant women don’t know whether they should exercise, and what type of activities are allowed. Now it is time to put the issue to rest, and discover once and for all what the fuss is all about!

Exercising While Pregnant 101

Let’s make one thing clear: you can, and should, exercise while pregnant, as long as you’re healthy. You should always consult your physician and make sure that you have no underlying issues that can prevent you from working out, but in general, most women can exercise with minimal restrictions.

For obvious reasons, there are a few types of activities that aren’t recommended for pregnant women: contact sports like boxing, sports that are accompanied by a change in altitudes like scuba diving or mountain climbing, and any other sport with a high risk for injury, like skiing.

But any other moderate activity can have a positive influence on you during your pregnancy.  The rule of thumb states that if you’ve been working out before your pregnancy, you can stick to your routine with slight modifications. That means that if you’ve been lifting weights before your pregnancy, you can keep doing that, as long as you do it moderately and consult with your physician whenever necessary.

The same thing goes for running and racquet sports, as they are relatively safe sports that won’t put you or your baby in harm’s way when done properly.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that women with uncomplicated pregnancies exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Women unaccustomed to exercise are advised to start slowly, exercising for shorter stretches, and building their way towards a 30-minute workout.

Those recommendations mostly refer to slight-intensity or moderate-intensity exercises, but recent studies show that vigorous workouts are also OK -as long as the woman in question is accustomed to it. Of course, the threshold for reaching high levels of vigorous-intensity exercise is lower in pregnant women, due to various physiological changes. However, women should know that they still can strive to elevate their heart rate as much as possible when exercising, but with caution.

The benefits of moderate-intensity exercising are quite extensive, and they include the following: reducing the risk of excessive weight gain, lower cesarean delivery rates, gestational diabetes, and symptoms of postpartum depression. While some say that exercising also contributes to reducing risks of preeclampsia and gestational hypertension, there isn’t enough evidence of that.

In Conclusion

After everything has been said and done, here are the ground rules for practicing during pregnancy:

  • Always consult with a doctor before you start a specific training program.
  • Avoid lying on your back and stomach, especially after the first trimester.
  • Avoid dehydration, and don’t exercise in a hot or humid environment, while drinking a lot of water.
  • Stop exercising if you experience bleeding, unusual pain, etc. and turn to a doctor as soon as possible.

Are you ready to get your sweat on?