Safe exercise during pregnancy

Updated: Jun 30


If this is your first pregnancy, you are probably reading and researching what is safe and what isn’t safe to do during pregnancy. How much is too much exercise? Can I go to my usual exercise class? Which exercise positions do I avoid?


For uncomplicated pregnancies, continuing an exercise program that YOUR body is used to is generally considered safe. Although there may be some alterations that you need to make, to make the exercise comfortable for your growing bump and changing posture, and this advice should be from a professional that can tailor your exercises for YOU.


Exercising during pregnancy can make you feel good, but interestingly it also helps make active labour shorter and less painful, and may even make your postnatal recovery easier. Exercise (pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy) may even reduce your chances of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia/eclampsia (high blood pressure). Research has shown that pregnant women whom exercise decrease their risk of developing postnatal depression.


pregnancy activity yoga exercise

How much exercise and activity you do is dependant on your health, fitness levels and your comfortability level. If you are unsure, go slow, do what feels good and always consult your medical practitioner.

SAFE EXERCISES

  • Walking

  • Stationary cycling

  • Aerobic exercises (~150 minutes per week split into different sessions)

  • Dancing

  • Resistance exercises

  • Stretching exercises

  • Hydrotherapy, water aerobics

ENSURE YOU ARE

  • Staying hydrated

  • Stretching muscles before and after exercise

  • Wear supportive clothes

  • Pace yourself

WHEN TO STOP EXERCISING:

  • Chest pain

  • Vaginal bleeding

  • Abdominal pain

  • Feeling dizzy/faint

  • Shortness of breath

  • Headache

  • Muscle weakness

  • Calf pain/swelling

  • Regular/painful contractions of uterus

  • Fluid leaking/gushing from vagina

AVOID:

  • TEMPERATURE. Your body’s core temperature is slightly higher when you are pregnant, so avoid exercising in hot or humid weather, and avoid strenuous activity that may cause your core temperature to rise to an unsafe level for you and your baby. Avoid things like bikram yoga.

  • LYING ON YOUR BACK. After 16 weeks, avoid lying flat on your back as the weight of your bump places pressure on the aorta and can make you feel faint and reduce blood flow to your baby.

  • HOLDING YOUR BREATH

  • CONTACT/IMPACT SPORTS. Avoiding contact sports or activities like horse riding, where there’s a risk of being injured.

  • HIGH IMPACT ACTIVITIES. Avoiding twists and turn, high stepping, or sudden stops/jolts that cause discomfort.

  • EXERCISE AT HEIGHTS. Exercise at heights over 2500m above sea level puts you and your baby at risk of altitude sickness/a decrease in oxygen which is extremely dangerous.

  • CHANGES IN PRESSURE. Avoiding activities like scuba-diving because of decompression sickness and possibility of gas emboli.

Of course, if your medical practitioner has advised against certain exercises and activities, that advice shoulder always be followed.

pregnancy yoga exercise safe activity chiropractic

STRETCHES

Stretches can help you feel more comfortable and create more balance. Some stretches that pregnant women enjoy include:

  • Cat/cow pose (but be sure not to go too far into cow pose, create a flat back)

  • Child’s pose

  • Gluteus stretches

"Exercising during pregnancy can make you feel good, but interestingly it also helps make active labour shorter and less painful, and may even make your postnatal recovery easier."

Dr. Melissa is trained in chiropractic techniques for pregnant women that can help you feel more comfortable during your pregnancy, ensuring you can continue exercising well into your third trimester. In the absence of medical complications, she can also assist in tailoring an exercise program that is safe for you and your baby.


If you want to learn about chiropractic care during pregnancy, you can read our blog chiropractic care during pregnancy.


To make a chiropractic appointment for yourself click here.

REFERENCES:

1. Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period, Obstetrics & Gynecology: April 2020 - Volume 135 - Issue 4 - p e178-e188

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000003772

2. Berghella V, Saccone G. Exercise in pregnancy! Am J Obstet Gynecol 2017;216:335–7.

3. Dipietro L, Evenson KR, Bloodgood B, Sprow K, Troiano RP, Piercy KL, Vaux-Bjerke A, Powell KE; 2018 PHYSICAL ACTIVITY GUIDELINES ADVISORY COMMITTEE*. Benefits of Physical Activity during Pregnancy and Postpartum: An Umbrella Review. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Jun;51(6):1292-1302. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001941. PMID: 31095086; PMCID: PMC6527310.

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