Is Exercise Good for Pregnancy?

We’ve written a lot about how exercise can cause problems for fertility and pregnancy (see our articles about how extreme exercise can be detrimental to fertility). However, we overlooked something big: for women, exercise can lower some of the risks posed during pregnancy and help you complete a successful conception.

What are the health benefits of exercise for pregnancy?

For a long time, it was believed that exercise could harm a baby inside its mother’s womb. However, it actually can provide health benefits, and pregnancy may be a time when women are particularly open to positive behavior change. During pregnancy, exercise can:

  • Reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
  • Boost your mood and energy levels
  • Help you sleep better
  • Prevent excess weight gain
  • Promote muscle tone, strength and endurance
  • Lower risk of gestational diabetes
  • Shorten labor
  • Reduce risk of having a C-section
  • Increase stamina needed for labor and delivery

Regular exercise will help you look better and feel better. At a time when your body seems to be changing rapidly, exercise can increase your sense of control of your body while boosting your energy levels and increasing the blood flow to your skin. Physical activity helps release endorphins that make you happy.

Exercise can also help you to reduce the amount of weight gain during pregnancy. You’ll gain less fat weight during your pregnancy if you continue to exercise, assuming you exercised before becoming pregnant. Strong muscles and a fit heart can greatly ease labor and delivery and manage the pain.

What types of exercises are good for my pregnancy?

Scientists say that pregnant women should get 20-30 minutes of regular workout. Walking is a great way to provide moderate aerobic conditioning with minimal joint stress. Other options include swimming, cycling, and strength training (as long as you stick to low weights). Elliptical machines, and low-impact aerobics are also good, carry little risk of injury, and can benefit your entire body.

Avoid high-impact exercises. Tennis and racquetball are generally safe activities, but changes in balance during pregnancy may affect rapid movements. Other activities such as jogging can be done in moderation, especially if you were doing them before your pregnancy. Remember to warm up, stretch and cool down. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and be careful to avoid overheating.

Exercise is good for you, your body, and your baby. So get out there and get moving!

References

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Pregnancy and Exercise: Baby, Let’s Move!” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 June 2019.

“Pregnancy and Exercise.” WebMD, WebMD, 2019.

“Exercising During Pregnancy (for Parents).” Edited by Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, June 2018.

Hobson, Katherine. “Exercising While Pregnant Is Almost Always A Good Idea.” NPR, NPR, 21 Mar. 2017.