Yes, it is safe to exercise during pregnancy, and yes there are proven and meaningful benefits!
Whilst of course there is such a thing as excessive and unsafe exercise during pregnancy, common misconceptions and fears about pregnancy and physical activity lead many women to be too cautious during pregnancy — sometimes to the point of avoiding exercise altogether. This fear and lack of clear guidance may be partly why only 15% of women meet the recommended guidelines for exercise during pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) encourage all pregnant women – who have clearance from their Doctor and no contraindications – to be active every day, aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. This level of exercise offers meaningful health benefits and reduces the risk of pregnancy complications.
This includes women who haven’t done much exercise before they were pregnant.
The benefits of exercise during pregnancy include:
- Improved (or maintained) cardiovascular fitness
- Improved psychological well-being (prevention/improvement of depression symptoms and reduced rates of anxiety)
- Improved quality of life
- Improved viability of the placenta
- Potentially improved sleep quality and reduced insomnia
- Lower birth weight of baby and increased gestational age
- Potentially improved neurodevelopment of the baby
- Reduced risk of gestational diabetes
- Decreased risk of high blood pressure associated with pregnancy (preeclampsia)
- Decreased postpartum recovery time
- Decreased risk (and decreased severity) of low back pain
- Decreased risk of urinary incontinence
- Maintenance of physical fitness
- Potentially reduced risk of cesarean delivery
“…For women with no contraindications, the benefits of exercise in pregnancy are so substantial that they far outweigh the risks”. Marika Hart, PT
Check out what MUTU Mama Kara had to say about how exercising during pregnancy helped her: