Can I exercise while I’m pregnant?
I hear this question a lot, and the answer is yes!! In fact, it is highly encouraged and recommended by ACOG, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In the past, there have been many thoughts and opinions about exercising while pregnant. Things like, don’t get your heart rate over 140 bpm; or don’t exercise more than 3 times per week. Thankfully there has been a lot of research done that has helped put these myths to rest. Check out these five myths about exercising while pregnant and the updated ACOG guidelines behind them.
5 Common Myths About Exercising While Pregnant
MYTH #1: Don’t get your heart rate over 140 bpm (beats per minute).
Heart rate is no longer a good gauge of intensity while exercising during pregnancy. ACOG states, “…the uses of ratings of perceived exertion may be a more effective means to monitor exercise intensity during pregnancy than heart-rate parameters.”
MYTH #2: Don’t exercise more than 3 times per week.
ACOG recommends, “An exercise program that leads to an eventual goal of moderate-intensity exercise for at least 20–30 minutes per day on most or all days of the week should be developed with the patient and adjusted as medically indicated.”
MYTH #3: You shouldn’t exercise during pregnancy if you weren’t exercising before becoming pregnant.
“Pregnant women who were sedentary before pregnancy should follow a more gradual progression of exercise. Although an upper level of safe exercise intensity has not been established, women who were regular exercisers before pregnancy and who have uncomplicated, healthy pregnancies should be able to engage in high-intensity exercise programs, such as jogging and aerobics, with no adverse effects.”
MYTH #4: Lying flat on your back should completely be avoided after the first trimester.
This myth was from the previous guidelines. They have now revised it a bit to say that, “Motionless postures, such as certain yoga positions and the supine position, may result in decreased venous return and hypotension in 10–20% of all pregnant women and should be avoided as much as possible.” They go on to describe this as women should avoid long periods of lying flat on their backs.
“…more than 60% of all pregnant women experience low back pain. Strengthening of abdominal and back muscles could minimize this risk.”
MYTH #5: You shouldn’t exercise while breastfeeding.
ACOG states, “Regular aerobic exercise in lactating women has been shown to improve maternal cardiovascular fitness without affecting milk production, composition, or infant growth.”
“Exercise routines may be resumed gradually after pregnancy as soon as medically safe, depending on the mode of delivery, vaginal or cesarean, and the presence or absence of medical or surgical complications.”
So, if you are pregnant and don’t already have an exercise routine, or if you are looking for a new one, there are many from which to choose. From prenatal yoga to water aerobics to prenatal classes like Fit4Mom, there is one for you.
It doesn’t matter what you choose, just find one that works best for you and get moving!! Of course, every pregnancy is different, and if you have any complications exercising might be contraindicated, so please always get your doctor’s permission before starting any exercise program.