For more thorough direction on Pregnancy Exercise Guidelines, and some of the Pregnancy Exercise recommendations of ACSM, ACOG, ACE, CSEP and SOGC please refer to Pregnancy Exercise Tips: Do’s and Don’ts.
You can also download the Pregnancy DO’s & Don’ts Video in our Free App.
What types of Exercise should you do during pregnancy? If you have been exercising before pregnancy you should be able to maintain the same exercise regimen, but at a slightly lower intensity, with your physician’s permission. If you have not exercised before you should be evaluated by your physician before beginning an exercise program.
The Big 5 on Exercise during Pregnancy:
- Drink a cup of water every 15 minutes. And eat within the hour of starting exercise.
- Exercise in a cool, well-ventilated area—especially important in 1st trimester. Avoid hot/humid environments.
- Listen to your body and exercise within YOUR 5-7 range on a 10-Point Scale. Recent research suggests using the 15-Point Borg Scale. Using this scale please stay between 12-14. Please refer to the RPE scales below.
- Wear good, supportive shoes to help prevent flat feet, which women tend to get during pregnancy. Wear a supportive bra and cool, dry clothing.
- Look at the list of when to stop exercising provided below.
Safe Intensity during Exercise
Rate of perceived exertion (RPE), or how hard you are working out. ACE recommends staying between a 5 & 8 on the 10-point scale while ACSM and ACOG recommend staying between 12 & 14 on the 15-point scale.
As you progress in your pregnancy it will be easier to achieve a higher RPE without as much work, which is why trimester-specific exercise is so impotant.
You can follow either the 10-point scale or the 15-point scale.
Also keep in mind heart rate monitors can be wrong during pregnancy. This is why it is wise to use your RPE.
But please keep in mind that there is no “1 size fits all” exercise for pregnant women. Remember to take it at your own pace and NEVER get to fatigue. If you don’t know what is too much or too little please check out Lindsay’s Pregnancy DVDs.
And the general rule is not to do more than you did before you were pregnant, especially after the 20 week mark.
If you find that any exercise creates a very tired feeling cut down the time, frequency or intensity.
When to stop exercise
Please refer to the ACOG Committee Opinion. You should stop exercising if any of the following occur: vaginal bleeding, dyspnea prior to exertion, dizziness, headache, chest pain, muscle weakness, calf pain or swelling, preterm labor, decreased fetal movement or amniotic fluid leakage. You should also stop if you are not feeling “right”.
When you should not start exercise
Please refer to the ACOG Committee Opinion, page 2.
Core (Ab) Exercise during Pregnancy
You can do core (ab) exercises while pregnant. But ACOG says you should not lie on your back after the 1st trimester.
Why Do Core Training?
As your belly expands, it may seem counterintuitive to work on strengthening the muscles around the area that increases in size as a natural part of pregnancy. Before you decide this is counterintuitive, let’s explain what the core is. As simply as possible, your core is defined as all the parts of the body except for your limbs and head. Think of your core as your abdomen, chest, back and hips. Some of your abdominals, in particular your pelvic floor and transverse abdominis are involved in labor. Having those muscles be as strong and flexible as possible during labor while greatly ease your baby’s entry into the world and you’ll be grateful for that. Post pregnancy, your healthy muscles will bounce back more quickly from labor. Your transverse acts as a sling to hold that baby in! So we’ve got to keep it strong. This is why Moms Into Fitness concentrates on the Pelvic Floor and Transverse Abdominis in every exercise DVD!
You should not do core exercises while pregnant if you have diastasis recti. Diastasis recti is a condition that up to 60% of women experience during pregnancy. The word diastasis means “separation” and the rectus abnonimis muscle is the center muscle of your six pack. What happens as a result of your expanding belly is this muscle can become separated from the linea alba. The linea alba is line of fibrous tissue that runs down the midline of your abdomen. It separates your rectus abdonimis muscles into a left and right side. Sometimes, as your baby develops and your abdomen expands, a slight separation of the muscle from the dividing tissue can occur. If you have this condition, then you should not do the Core exercises, twisting, quadruped positions, crunches etc. You will find these modifications on all of Lindsay’s Pregnancy DVDs. Generally, women don’t have this separation during the first trimester, but if you experience any discomfort in this area, you may want to ease up on the core exercises. More information on diastasis recti and to test if you have the condition.
The condition is not serious and in most cases will heal after the baby is out. Because it is caused by the expanding of your belly, those of you who are carrying twins or who are having a larger baby are more susceptible to it occurring.
Can I exercise during Pregnancy if I haven’t exercised before?
A 2002 study by ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,) which was reaffirmed in 2009, states that previously inactive women should be evaluated before recommendations for exercise are made. So make sure you get your physician’s recommendations before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.
How often should I workout?
Try to workout at least 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes, 50 minutes max. Toning should be done every other day. Add some prenatal yoga for relaxation. Ideally you should do some form of exercise most days of the week. Sporadic exercise can do more harm than good, so use that as your motivation to stick to a schedule!
Use of Heart Rate Monitors During Pregnancy?
Please click here.
How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?
A woman’s body is made to bear a child. In order to do that, you will have to gain some weight. For most women that weight will ideally be somewhere between fifteen and thirty-five pounds.( see below for the IOM guidelines). You’ll put that amount of weight on in nine months time. No matter how you look at it, that’s a significant amount of weight to gain in that timeframe. Losing that amount of weight would be hard for anyone to lose. The good news, is that the pregnancy weight you will have to lose will go when the baby is born and 6 weeks post-baby. The rest is up to you and how you take care of yourself. You’re left with loose skin, loose muscles and probably a few more lbs. than going into the pregnancy. You may be asking yourself where all of this weight comes from and the answer is that a majority of it comes from the baby itself (7 to 8 pounds) and your increasing muscle tissue and fluid (4 to 7 pounds). Other sources of weight gain are from the placenta and amniotic fluid that protect the baby (3 to 4 pounds); increased size of breasts (approximately one pound); increased size of uterus (2 pounds); increased blood volume (3 pounds); and finally increased body fat (5 or more pounds).