Exercise During Pregnancy

By Jae C. Santiago, MPT

Many women are encouraged to modify certain aspects of their lifestyle when they become pregnant to best prepare them and their baby for safe gestation and delivery.  This includes more health-conscious activities such as eating healthy, making sure to get sufficient nutrients, or maintaining a healthy weight.   The questions regarding exercises (types, frequency) often come up.  In the article “Exercise in Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period,” authors grossly refer to the recommendations of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Canada (SOGC) in regards to exercise during pregnancy, which consists of six main points:

  1. All women without contraindications should be encourages to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises as part of a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancy.
    1. Women who are just starting an aerobic exercise program during pregnancy who were previously sedentary should begin with 15 minutes of continuous exercises 3x/wk and increase gradually to 30 minutes x 4x/wk.
    2. Women who have been exercising prior to pregnancy may continue their usual exercise regimen during pregnancy, but using the following recommendations below.
  2. Reasonable goals of aerobic conditioning in pregnancy should be to maintain a good fitness level throughout pregnancy without trying to reach peak fitness or train for an athletic competition.
    1. Limit exercise to minimal or moderate levels to avoid overexertion
  3. Women should choose activities that will minimize risk of imbalance and fetal trauma
    1. Examples include: swimming, stationary cycling, brisk walking
  4. Women should be advised that adverse pregnancy or neonatal outcomes are not increased for exercising women
  5. Initiation of pelvic floor exercises in the immediate postpartum period may reduce the risk of future urinary incontinence.
  6. Women should be advised that moderate exercise during lactation does not affect the quantity or composition of breast milk or impact infant growth.

These 6 points are used as guidelines advising obstetric care providers regarding maternal, fetal and neonatal implications of aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises in pregnancy.   It is highly advised for any women considered as having a high-risk pregnancy to refer to the primary care doctor or OB-GYN before starting any exercise regimen.

Here at OSR in Kailua we work with patients every day that are pregnant or postpartum. If you are looking for more suggestions on how you can work out while pregnant, make sure to ask our physical therapists when you’re in for your next appointment. Call today to make an appointment at 488-5555!

For more information regarding exercises during pregnancy, you can refer to the link below to refer to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Exercise Guidelines, which provide information and explains precautions similarly as the SOGC does above.



Davis, G. Exercise in Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period.  Joint SOGC/CSEP Clinical Practice Guideling. No. 129, June 2003

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