The Importance of Exercise During Pregnancy


pregnant woman holding bottle of waterThe Importance of Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy can have many great benefits for both mother and baby. Exercise can: decrease stress, improve posture, increase stamina and pelvic floor muscle strength to aide in delivery, prevent excess weight gain, and decrease risk of gestational diabetes. Certain precautions need to be taken into consideration to maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Various changes occur to a woman’s body throughout the nine months of growth and development.

• Hormones produced during pregnancy cause increased laxity in the ligaments throughout the body. This makes a woman more susceptible to injury due to decreased stability.
• A growing baby bump shifts a woman’s center of gravity forward; thus causing a woman to lean back to maintain balance. This also puts a woman at increased risk of falling.
• Increased breast size also causes postural changes which can lead to forward shoulders, mid back pain, and neck strain.

Many exercises are safe to perform while pregnant. It is recommended to continue, on a modified level, with an exercise program that was of comfort prior to pregnancy. It is not recommended to begin a new, strenuous exercise regimen during pregnancy. The following exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy:

• Walking
• Swimming
• Stationary bike
• Gentle postural exercises
• Prenatal yoga classes
• If you were a runner prior to becoming pregnant you can continue to run during pregnancy on a modified program. Check with your healthcare provider prior to beginning a running regimen while pregnant

It is advised to avoid exercises or recreational activities which have a risk of falling. The following exercises can be harmful if performed during pregnancy:

• Downhill skiing
• Contact sports
• Horseback riding
• Scuba diving (due to risk of decompression sickness)
• Exercise in hot, humid weather
• Aggressive stretching (due to ligament laxity)
• Exercises that involves lying flat on your back (in second and third trimesters)
• Traditional sit-ups during the third trimester (increased risk of diastasis recti)

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes of low impact exercise everyday during a healthy, low risk pregnancy. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, wear lose/comfortable clothing, and have fun!

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