Exercising while pregnant is not only safe, but generally recommended for women in good health. A woman should plan to begin an exercise program prior to conceiving, and then continue that program into the pregnancy. Exercise and good nutrition promote a healthy weight gain during pregnancy, and can help a woman better tolerate labor and delivery.
Pregnant women should try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week. Low-impact options like brisk walking, using an elliptical trainer or swimming are ideal. Strength training using small weights, prenatal yoga and stretching can also be a positive addition to a prenatal fitness program. Expectant mothers should use caution when lifting weights, as their joints become more relaxed due to pregnancy-driven hormonal changes, increasing the chance for injury. High-impact and contact sports, such as competitive martial arts and skiing, should be avoided.
If a patient has been active prior to getting pregnant, she can enjoy many of her same fitness activities. However, it is very important for a pregnant woman to monitor her heart rate while exercising. Expectant mothers should keep their heart rate below 140 beats per minute and make sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising.
Women with high-risk pregnancies, other pre-existing conditions or those who have never exercised must seek guidance from their physicians before engaging in any regular fitness program. And all expectant mothers should talk with their doctors to develop a program that fits their particular needs and fitness levels.
Dr. Michael Urig is chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call Urig’s Ahwatukee Foothills office at (480) 759-9191.