“Don’t lift over 15 pounds” “You can’t let your heart rate go over 140 beats per minute” “You can’t valsalva anymore” “Gentle walks and yoga are the only exercise you can do”
These are all common statements said to women who find out they’re pregnant, share the news with providers and friends, and ask for guidance around exercise. While commonly said, all of these statements are FALSE. They are not evidence based recommendations, and are simply not helpful. Taking away activities that people enjoy for no reason but a lack of understanding and fear is well, unfortunate to say the least.
So what should a pregnant woman do for exercise? Here are a couple guidelines:
1. Physical activity guidelines recommend, at a minimum, 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity (like brisk walking) and 2 sessions of resistance training weekly. 2. Continue your regular exercise routine if meeting the above guidelines. 3. If you are not reaching these goals, pregnancy is a perfectly safe time to start or increase activity.
Notice that I did not add in any specific exercises or routines? That is because exercise needs to be individualized to your self and your goals. The best exercise is the one that you will do. If you enjoy running, you can keep running! If you enjoy lifting weights, you can keep lifting! These exercises will likely look different as pregnancy progresses. It is especially important to listen to your body. There are times when exercise during pregnancy is not recommended, but those instances are rare. Adding a fitness/movement professional to your birth team can be so helpful when navigating pregnancy and exercise. A professional will be able to help you keep moving in ways that you enjoy, while helping you to modify activity as needed.
Exercise and pregnancy does not have to be such a confusing time. Exercise has been proven time and time again to be safe and beneficial for pregnancy. Please reach out if you have questions about exercise during pregnancy, I am here to support you.
– Ellyn Halley, DC
Are you local to West Salem and looking for movement guidance during pregnancy? You can book a movement consult with me here.
I also offer a self paced online Pregnancy + Postpartum Fitness Class.
U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines
Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by James F. Clapp III MD, Catherine Cram MS