I often get asked questions regarding exercise during pregnancy such as, "Can I continue to train for marathons? How much exercise is too much? Will it hurt the baby?"

These are all very good questions and something you want to take into consideration while pregnant no matter your fitness level. 

Pregnant women should get at least 20 minutes of exercise per day. There are so many benefits to exercise including: 

  • Exercise will help with weight control. You are going to gain weight during pregnancy, but with a regular exercise routine, you can avoid gaining too much fat which is harder to take off after the birth. Pregnancy is not the time to diet or start a whole new intense exercise regime, but it's also not a free pass to eat whatever you want. 
  • Exercise releases the 'feel good' hormones which can help boost your mood, let go of stress and anxiety, and it will help you sleep better at night. Since there are many factors that contribute to restless nights (getting up to pee, muscle cramps, tossing and turning, acid reflux, crazy pregnancy dreams....) doing something daily that can help me sleep is a must!
  • Exercise contributes to healthy muscles. With excess weight added to your body, your muscles and bones have to support this. Exercise will help keep your muscles strong to support your body and protect your joints and ligaments. 
  • Exercise contributes to a healthy heart. With your blood volume increasing by almost 50%, your heart has to work extra hard to supply your body, as well as your baby, with oxygen and nutrients. 

Although exercise is super beneficial during pregnancy, there are many exercises or sports you want to avoid so you and the baby do not get injured. You should avoid any exercise that is high intensity, high impact, causes you to change directions suddenly, or may cause you to lose your balance. Exercises include: 

  • Competitive basketball, soccer, hockey, football, tennis, volleyball
  • Racquetball
  • Horseback riding
  • Any skiing
  • High impact aerobics, gymnastics
  • Running 
  • Ice skating
  • Lifting heavy weights

Keeping active during pregnancy is good for you and your baby. Exercises that you want to incorporate into your daily routine include: 

  • Walking
  • Brisk walking
  • Stationary cycling
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Low impact aerobics and dance
  • Jogging (If you were not a runner pre-pregnancy, I would not advise to start now. If you were a runner, you may just slow it down to a jog. Many women find jogging uncomfortable as it is hard on your joints, and the bouncing of the breasts and abdomen can be painful.)

Make sure you listen to your body with any exercise. If you cannot talk and continue the exercise, the intensity may be too high. Slow down, take a break, and sip some water. If you have trouble making exercise a daily routine, grab a friend! Having an accountability partner will help immensely, as well as doing an activity you enjoy. 

As always, talk to your doctor before starting or continuing any exercise program during your pregnancy, especially if you have health problems.