Exercise During Pregnancy

What to consider when working out while you’re pregnant

Working out with pregnant clients is rewarding but challenging. When I worked with my first mom-to-be, I was totally overwhelmed and scared that I could do anything wrong. I consulted doctors, read tons of articles, and took courses on how to work with pregnant clients.

In hindsight, I worried too much, but that’s who I am. Moderate exercise during low-risks pregnancies has many benefits and minimal risks.

Here are some of the key learnings from my studies and my work with prepartum clients*:

Physical activity during pregnancy helps you to stay healthy

Exercise during pregnancy helps women to reduce the risk of obesity and related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or certain types of cancer.

According to the American Pregnancy Organization, exercise during pregnancy also provides you with many additional health benefits, including:

  • Reduction of back pain
  • Increase in energy
  • Improved mood and sleep quality
  • Reduction of swelling or bloating
  • Improvement of posture

From my experience, working out during pregnancy helps my clients also to get in shape after the baby was born.

What do you need to consider when you exercise during pregnancy?

  • Getting an evaluation from your physician is essential before starting an exercise program.
  • According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, walking, swimming, stationary cycling, low-impact aerobics, or modified strength training are among the activities that are generally considered safe for most pregnant women*.
  • On the other hand, contact sports (e.g., ice hockey, boxing, soccer, and basketball), activities that include the risk of falling (e.g., downhill skiing or horseback riding), hot yoga, hot pilates, scuba or sky diving are considered as unsafe. (1)
  • Apart from that, the American Pregnancy OrganizationActivities suggest avoiding activities that require rapid changes in direction, extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing while stretching, waist twisting movements while standing, abrupt intense bursts of activity, exercising in hot or humid environments, exercise that requires holding your breath for an extended period of time or exercising to the point of exhaustion.
  • It is also recommended that pregnant women avoid any supine positions after week 16 of their pregnancy because this position can decrease blood pressure and potentially lead to fainting.
  • Sufficient fluid intake is crucial to balance the loss of fluids and to prevent dehydration.

Considerations for exercise programming during pregnancy

Pregnancy is NOT the time to drastically change your current exercise routine. For example, if you’ve never exercised before, it’s not the best idea to start participating in strenuous exercise classes. Instead, go for walks or team up with a fitness professional that can help you to design a training program that is in line with your fitness level.

The banded hipbridge helps to strengthen the hips and the low back.
The banded single-leg hip bridge helps to strengthen the hips and the low back. It can help to prevent knee or low back injuries

Pregnancy changes the body’s center of gravity, which can result in low back pain. Exercises that strengthen the lower back and the hips can help to prevent or improve this condition.

Great exercises to strengthen these areas include birddogs, clam shells, hip bridges with or without resistance band, band walks, etc.

The hip bridge on a ball is a progression of the hip bridge. Using the ball helps to further activate the small muscles that stabilize the low back.

Many women become more flexible during pregnancy. This can lead to decreased joint stability and increased laxity of the muscles and the joints. An exercise program that focuses on improving stability can help to prevent potential injuries, including knee or hip pain.

Exercises that can help to strengthen the knees and the hips include step ups, squats, hip bridges, etc.

Band walks with a ball can help to train core and hip stability.
The band walk with a ball can help to train core and hip stability. .

(1) American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

*These recommendations are in line with the official guideline of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. However, every pregnancy is different, so it’s crucial to do regular check-ins with your physician to understand if there are special recommendations for your individual case.

In good health,
Rike

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Rike Aprea

My name is Friederike Aprea. Most people call me Rike. I'm German-born and have lived and worked in Japan and Korea before I moved to the US. I coach individuals and companies using the principles of Kaizen. Whether you want to live a more purpose-driven life, improve your health, or change the business model of your company: Kaizen can get you there. Step by step. Day by day.

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