General Guidelines for Exercising During Pregnancy
If you are recently pregnant, and have always been an active individual, you will benefit from exercising and maintaining a similar exercise routine (with some adjustments) to the one you had prior. If you are recently pregnant but have never been active, it is not too late to start! You can initiate a tailored exercise program that can include walking, light strengthening and functional activities. Always consult with your OBGYN/midwife or pelvic health physical therapist prior to starting an exercise program during pregnancy. It is recommended that you see a pelvic health physical therapist during pregnancy to get on the appropriate exercise program for you, as well as address or prevent any impairments or discomfort.
Exercise is extremely beneficial for both mom and baby during pregnancy. It has cardiovascular, pulmonary, and musculoskeletal benefits that can help ease delivery, can help expectant mother feel better physically and emotionally, can reduce likelihood of gestational diabetes, assists in weight management, and can reduce pain/discomfort. Research studies have shown that exercising at least 2 times per week can reduce likelihood of depression during pregnancy.
Recommendation of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is that a pregnant woman should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. It is recommended that women exercise at a minimum of 3 days per week. This can include going on a brisk walk, doing body weight exercises, weight lifting, dancing, yoga, pilates, etc. If you find something that you enjoy, you are much more likely to commit to it and be consistent.
There are several key guidelines to consider when exercising during pregnancy:
Make sure you are hydrating properly and consuming the right nutrients for energy and to maintain appropriate caloric intake.
Incorporate core and pelvic floor strengthening. It is extremely important to engage our deep abdominal muscles and train them properly for reduced likelihood of low back pain, improved breathing techniques during birth and improved posture. Avoid crunches or deep flexion or rotation during 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
Make sure the exercise is safe and is not a high fall risk exercise. You want to avoid any exercises that can make it more likely for you and baby to get injured. While we want to work on balance training with a physical therapist, stay away from new exercises that require additional balance training without supervision.
Listen to any and all warning signs your body gives you! Listening and tuning in to your body will be extremely important during this time. If something doesn’t feel right, it most likely is not. Some signs you should stop your exercise include extreme fatigue, bleeding, and dizziness.
Dr. Krisia Gattas, PT, DPT