To all your soon-to-be mummas out there, this one is for you.
For many, the topic of working out during pregnancy has a big fat question mark, and you are probably
wondering… what to expect when you’re expecting. The main thing to remember is that not
all pregnancies are created equal, and what worked for your BFF or Kim Kardashian may not
work for you.
As you progress through your pregnancy, your body goes through drastic
changes. These changes and experiences are unique to each and every woman.
I often hear from both lines of work that my patients and clients are either stopping or
drastically reducing their physical activity during pregnancy. This truly leaves me baffled.
There has never been a time in your life where being strong and physically healthy is more
With the approval of your GP, obstetrician or midwife, exercise during pregnancy is
extremely beneficial for so many reasons. Women who are pregnant and without
complications are encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises
as part of a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancy.
Now this is not to say I am encouraging one hundred chest-to-floor burpees or marathon
training, but instead, an adjusted version of what you were already doing prior. The benefits
of exercise are abundant and remains just as important during pregnancy, both physically
and mentally. Benefits of exercise during pregnancy include:
Reduced back and pelvic pain
Reduced complications including pre-eclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertension
Preparation for physical demands of labour
Faster recuperation after delivery
Prevention and management of urinary incontinence
Improved circulation to reduce swelling
Reduced risk of anxiety and depression
Increased ability to cope with physical demands of motherhoods
These are but a few or the many benefits of exercise. Before beginning exercise during
pregnancy consult with you doctor about what exercise is best for you. Your body
undergoes incredible changes during pregnancy which may affect your ability/level of safe
exercise and may require a modified program.
Women produce a hormone called ‘relaxin’ which is unique to pregnancy only. This
hormone allows for movement of your pelvis and other joints of the body to adjust for the
growth of your baby. This means that you have slightly less stability of your joints than pre-
pregnancy and need to be careful with high-impact, jolting, and unstable exercises such as
some plyometric and running type training.
In addition to this, your resting heartrate during pregnancy is already elevated above the
pre-pregnancy norm, hence you need to pay more attention to target heart rate. Talk to
your doctor to find out more about safe heart rate targets.
During the second trimester your blood pressure drops, so it is important to avoid rapid
changes of position and exercises on your back to avoid unwanted dizzy spells. For example,
burpees, plank holds, crunches, jump squats, long-distance running and some sports must
be exercised with caution.
When beginning your fit pregnancy journey, take into account the following tips:
Let your body guide you. Our bodies talk to us and give us warning signs for when to stop, but also give us positive signs for when to keep going.
Despite what Dr Google and your best friend may say, ALWAYS be guided by your Doctor, physiotherapist or healthcare professional. Not one pregnancy is the same as another, and very few pregnancies align with the ‘textbook’ pregnancy.
Do at least thirty minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days of the week if you are healthy and not experiencing any complications, and a modified low-intensity program if you are experiencing problems.
The safest exercises that provide the highest benefits during pregnancy include walking,
swimming, cycling, jogging, Pilates, modified yoga, pelvic floor training, pregnancy-specific
exercise and Barre classes, and modified and guided weights, gym-based and interval
You have your whole life to increase the intensity and push your body to the limits,
but pregnancy is not this time. Always avoid pushing yourself to exhaustion, unaccustomed
weight-lifting, high-temperatures and heavy sweating, contact sports, high-balance
demanding exercises, high-altitude, and pushing yourself when you are unwell.