What You Need to Know About Exercising While Pregnant

March 25th 2017

Samantha Cowan

From caffeine to sushi, pregnancy often comes with having to sacrifice many of life’s little joys while caring for a soon-to-be bundle of joy.

For years, there's been conflicting information regarding the safety of working out while pregnant, and a new paper has finally shed some light on the subject.



Exercising while pregnant is not only safe, but provides health benefits to both parent and child, according to a viewpoint published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The meta-analysis of more than 2,000 women also found that "pregnancy may be a time when women are particularly open to positive behavior change," according to NPR.

It may be one of the best times to introduce an exercise regiment and previously sedentary people are usually more open to starting an exercise routine during pregnancy, the viewpoint reports.

“Pregnancy is a time of life when women are really predisposed to do anything they can to ensure that they’re going to have a healthy baby. Even smokers quit smoking during pregnancy,” Alejandro Lucia, a physician, exercise physiology professor at the European University of Madrid and co-author of the viewpoint, told ATTN:.

“If physicians tell them to exercise, they will do it.”

Pregnancy is also a rare time of life in which patients see their doctors on a regular basis, during which their physicians can remind them to continue to pursue healthy lifestyle choices.




Activities like swimming, walking, and strength training are recommended, while pregnant people may want to lay off contact sports or lifting heavy weights. For those with pregnancy complications or additional risk factors, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends meeting with a doctor to create an individualized regiment.

Also, during pregnancy people should take care not to over exert themselves, focusing on moderate intensity workouts. One simple way to make sure you’re not working too hard is the talk test— meaning as long as the you are able to carry on a conversation while working out, you're not overexerting yourself.

Not only is exercising from 12 weeks until delivery safe, it's also a healthy choice. One of the major benefits of exercise during pregnancy is that it prevents excessive weight gain. Higher maternal weight can also result in higher birth weight, and can contribute to obesity for the child later in life.



Exercise during pregnancy can also decrease the risk of gestational diabetes in obese patients, preeclampsia, cesarean sections, and lessen lower back pain. Physical activity can also boost moods and improve sleep habits.

Some pregnant people have embraced the advice to stay moving, with viral videos cropping up over the past few years of elite athletes sticking to their exercise routines and expecting moms dancing their hearts out.

But Lucia warns that pregnant people should not look to viral videos or social media for work out advice.


“There are some famous people on Twitter doing a lot of exercise during pregnancy and they’re not gaining any weight. And this can be a problem also," Lucia said. "You must gain some weight." The ACOG recommends patients gain anywhere from 11 to 40 pounds while pregnant, depending upon their body mass index at conception.

“Our main message is that there’s no condition in life that really counter indicates at least moving a little bit,” Lucia said. “Lying in bed is the worst thing a human being can do, in my opinion.”