Exercise and Pregnancy: Is it Safe?

Article Courtesy of March of Dimes

For many women, exercise is an important part of their lives, and they want to continue being physically active during pregnancy. In most cases, they can. Many studies have demonstrated that, in low-risk pregnancies, moderate or even vigorous exercise is safe for the baby. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that most pregnant women participate in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days.

Regular physical activity leads to improved fitness for pregnant women. It helps keep the heart, mind and entire body healthy. It can ease many common discomforts of pregnancy, such as constipation, backache, fatigue, sleep disturbances and varicose veins. Regular exercise also may help prevent pregnancy-related forms of diabetes and high blood pressure. Fit women may be able to cope better with labor and recover faster after delivery.

Pregnant women who have not been physically active should consider gradually increasing their activities or starting a mild exercise program to reap some of these health benefits. However, all pregnant women should check with a health care provider before starting or continuing exercise.

Women who do not want to participate in a traditional exercise program can obtain many of the health benefits of exercise by doing something physically active, like going for a walk. Past recommendations stated that a person needed to exercise continuously for about 30 minutes at least three times a week to obtain health benefits. However, current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that short bouts of physical activity (at least 10 minutes each) several times a day also are effective.