According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC), most women can exercise moderately in pregnancy doing aerobic or strength conditioning exercises. Exercise does NOT increase risks of bad outcomes in the healthy pregnancy.
Are there risks if I don’t exercise?
Yes, there are risks to consider if NOT exercising. These include:
- loss of muscle and cardiovascular fitness
- excessive weight gain
- higher risk of gestational diabetes
- high blood pressure in pregnancy
- development of varicose veins
- low back pain
- shortness of breath
Who should NOT exercise while pregnant?
The following are situations where the benefits of exercise do NOT outweigh the risks to the unborn baby:
- premature rupture of membranes (water breaking)
- preterm labour (contractions before 37th week of pregnancy)
- high blood pressure disorder of pregnancy
- incompetent cervix
- growth restricted fetus
- triplets or more
- placenta previa after 28th week of pregnancy
- persistent 2nd or 3rd trimester bleeding
- uncontrolled type 1 diabetes or thyroid disease
- serious cardiovascular, respiratory or systemic disorder
Situations where I should talk to my doctor before continuing or starting an exercise program:
The following are situations where you may be able to do some exercise but should speak with your doctor beforehand to ensure you are doing the right level for you and your situation:
- previous miscarriages
- previous preterm birth
- mild/moderate cardiovascular disorder
- mild/moderate respiratory disorder
- malnutrition or eating disorder
- twin pregnancy after 28th week of pregnancy
- other significant conditions
If I have not been exercising, how do I start?
Many women like to start exercising in the second trimester when the fatigue and nausea of first trimester have settled.
Starting with 15 minutes of continuous exercise three times a week is a great start. Then you can gradually increase to 30 minute sessions four times a week.
What types of exercise should I doing in pregnancy?
Women can aim to maintain a good fitness level without trying to reach top physical shape or train for an athletic competition. Choosing safe exercises that decrease the risk of falling is important. Walking, stationary biking, swimming, and aqua fitness are great ways of exercising without causing trauma to joints and ligaments. There are also many exercise class options at gyms or in home workout programs in pregnancy.