Frequently Asked Questions about Exercise & Pregnancy
Yes, you can continue or start an exercise program while you are pregnant. This doesn’t mean that you need to join a gym or buy lots of expensive equipment. You can walk, swim, cycle, or find something that you like to do that gets your body moving and heart working.
Exercise can help you feel better during some of the changes that happen to your body during pregnancy. Some of the benefits of regular exercise are:
- Improves your posture and helps reduce back pain.
- Decreases leg cramps.
- Reduces constipation.
- Helps you to feel more energetic.
- Improves your overall mood.
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.
- Wear layers of clothes and take them off as you get warmer (avoid overheating).
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Wear a good support bra.
- Try to do some type of exercise at least three to five times per week.
- Do kegel exercises every day.
Kegel exercises are to help strengthen your pelvic floor. This is the part of your body that is directly supporting the extra weight of your baby.
Kegels are important because they:
- Can help prevent urine leaks when laughing, sneezing or lifting.
- Help support your pelvic organs.
- Are an important part of your core muscle strength.
Research tells us that moderate exercise is safe in a normal healthy pregnancy, even if you did not exercise before you were pregnant. You need to check with your doctor or midwife before you begin any exercise program. Talking with your doctor or midwife gives them more information about how you are taking care of yourself and your baby and will help you to feel more confident about exercising.
In order to get the best benefits for you and your baby, exercise that gets your heart beating faster (cardiovascular exercise) is the best. This can include walking, swimming, cycling, fitness classes (look for a prenatal exercise program in your community), or anything that gets your heart rate up. Exercise Basics and Walking Workout are two examples of the types of exercises you can do.
You don’t have to go really fast to get the health benefits. A good way to monitor how hard you are exercising is to use the “talk test.” Say two sentences out loud while exercising. If you can do this without being short of breath, then you are in the right range.
Start out with 15 minutes per day. This can be increased to 30 minutes per day when you feel comfortable. As a general rule, try to exercise at least three times per week to get the maximum benefits for you and your baby.