You’ve been active, working out 4 – 6 times a week. Maybe you run races or compete in a sport. Now you are pregnant and you have a few questions.
First, we are going to discuss what you can and should do. Then we are going to get into some common mistakes made during fit pregnancies/ by pregnant athletes.
The following to guide for fit pregnancies should be followed in addition to our comprehensive Prenatal and Postnatal Exercise Guidelines.
The total blood volume in regularly exercising pregnant women is 10 – 15 percent higher than in women who do not exercise. The benefits of cardio (aerobic exercise) are still present 6 – 12 months after birth, which is why some athletes have improved performance after birth.
You might feel frustrated by some of the limitations that pregnancy places on your agility. For example, weight gain and laxity in ligaments and joints reduce your running speed. The weight in pregnancy increases the force on your hips and knees. Your fine motor skills might feel sluggish, and you might try to compensate for your loss of dexterity by using your body in awkward ways, inviting injury as a result.
Pregnant women have the same exercise guidelines as non-pregnant women — aim for 30+ minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. For exercise sessions longer than 45 minutes, there are extra precautions (see below). Exercise should not exceed pre-pregnancy levels. You can continue running as long as you were running prior to pregnancy. Read the top 10 tips for running during pregnancy. For fit pregnancy workouts, use our pregnancy library.
The “intensity” of a prenatal fitness plan is going to depend on a number of factors, including your prior experience with exercise, your health history, the status of the pregnancy, and your personal tolerance for exertion. Overall, the intensity of your exercise sessions should be somewhat hard or somewhat hard. Be sure to talk with your doctor or midwife about your specific situation before you exercise.
Somewhat Active: When you are somewhat active (participating in exercise and activities a few times a week) 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is encouraged. 20 – 30 minutes on most days is a good goal. In addition to aerobic activity, strength training should be done every other day.
Exercise Veteran or “Recreational Athlete”: When you habitually engage in exercise, you can and should continue your regimen, adjusted over time. Research recommends intensity should be between 60 – 80 percent of maximum maternal heart rate.
Competitive Athlete: You require frequent and close supervision due to a more strenuous training schedule. Be aware that athletes can push their limits of pain and intensity. Any session over 45 minutes can lead to low blood sugar, so limiting the exercise session or ingesting adequate caloric intake prior to and during exercise is important.
Elite Athlete: If you have several years experience or your particular sport is your profession, you require frequent and close supervision due to a more strenuous training schedule.