For many people pregnancy is an ideal time to establish healthy habits regarding exercise & nutrition. One of my goals at FITMOM is to help promote and support a happy, healthy and active pregnancy by providing evidence based information & education. So today we’re separating Fact from Fiction and sharing what you need to know about exercise during pregnancy.
You have to wait until after your first trimester before you begin exercising
You can begin exercising anytime during your pregnancy in the absence of contraindications. Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in both cardio & strength resistance training before, during and after their pregnancy. In fact, the SOGC & ACOG recommends that pregnant women get at least 20-30 minutes of moderate-intense aerobic activity each day (or most days).
You need to keep your heart rate below 140bpm
Heart rate checks are not the most accurate method of evaluating intensity. Sometimes a very fit woman may have an elevated heart rate that does not match the intensity of her workout, while an unfit pregnant woman may have a lower heart rate doing the exact same activity but who feels she is working much harder. It is much safer and more accurate to measure perceived exertion and follow the ‘talk test’. A pregnant woman should be able to carry on a conversation wile exercising. So, can you sing the ABC’s while you squat?
You can’t train your core during pregnancy
Core Strength is essential for maintaining muscular balance and preparing for the pushing phase of labour. However, it is important to train correctly. You should avoid certain exercises like crunches, neutral plank and twisting work. Replace those exercises with side plank, belly breathing and isometric abdominal work and you will go a long way to keeping your core strong throughout your pregnancy.
If you have never exercised before you should not start during pregnancy
Physical inactivity during pregnancy is a leading risk factor for pregnancy complications like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. It also leads to excessive weight gain which can further complicate your overall health. For most women the benefits of regular exercise outweighs any risk. If you have never been active before then start slowly, find a trainer or a qualified instructor who works with this population and start a new habit today!
Remember, physical activity is an essential element of a healthy lifestyle. Women who exercise regularly throughout their pregnancy reduce their risk of pregnancy complications, have healthier weight gain and report improvements around their mental well being. If you are looking to stay active and strong in your pregnancy then I invite you to join our next 6 week prenatal series this September! Get more information here.
Originally Posted March 3, 2016. Updated August 8, 2018.