The Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy and How to Do It

Share this!

How Exercising During Pregnancy Can Benefit Mom and Baby

Once you become pregnant there are a lot of different things you might have heard about exercising while pregnant, as well as exercising in the first trimester specifically.

This post is designed to teach you all the benefits of exercising during pregnancy, how much is recommended, and when it is not safe to exercise during pregnancy. Did you know whether or not your exercise regularly during pregnancy has a direct impact on your baby’s health all the way through adulthood?

Always consult your trusted physician prior to beginning a new exercise regime.

Benefits for mom and baby of exercise while pregnant

Is Exercise Safe During Pregnancy?

You may be wondering if it is even safe to exercise during your pregnancy at all. 

70 years ago pregnancy was viewed almost as being a disorder. Women in such a “condition” were told to rest and definitely not to exercise.

Fortunately, science has come a long way since then. And we now know that it is not only ok to exercise during your pregnancy, but it is also highly recommended in most circumstances!

Pregnant women can benefit from up to 30 minutes of exercise each day through each trimester of pregnancy according to the American Pregnancy Association. Performing less exercise is still highly beneficial. In fact 150 minutes a week is often seen as ideal.

This 30 minutes also refer to exercise as light as a brisk walk. The important thing is to stay active and strong to have a more healthy pregnancy and baby, as well as possibly having an easier labor and delivery.


Why You Want to Be Exercising During Pregnancy

The long list of benefits of exercising during pregnancy for mom and baby:

  • Exercise naturally releases endorphins (the happy hormone) leading to better moods
  • Exercising can also boost your energy levels! In the first trimester especially you probably feel exhausted, fitting in a 20-minute workout can help give you the energy to get through the rest of your day.
  • Having an exercise regimen during your pregnancy can help you gain less pregnancy weight.
  • It’s also likely that exercise during pregnancy causes the baby to gain less weight, having closer to an average birthweight. (Varying birth sizes are also due to genetics and mothers diet as well.)
  • Exercising during pregnancy can make labor and delivery easier as you are more physically fit to deal with the rigorous day ahead.
  • Pregnancy puts a strain on your shoulders, low back, and hips. Working out can help strengthen these muscles and ease discomfort.
  • Exercise helps you sleep better!
  • According to one study women who participated in regular exercise had lower risks of pregnancy complications including gestational diabetes.
  • Exercise can reduce constipation, a common pregnancy symptom.
  • It is possible that exercise during pregnancy can reduce your baby’s odds of contracting diabetes and of excessive weight gain throughout their lives.
  • Maternal exercise during pregnancy may increase your child’s cognitive function.
  • A recent study on the effects of exercise during pregnancy demonstrated that maternal exercise during pregnancy has a direct positive impact on your baby’s vascular health as an adult!

fitness catagory for vigor it out

When Should You NOT Exercise During Pregnancy?

Typically in a healthy pregnancy, exercise is recommended and will be quickly approved by your doctor. However, there is a list of contraindications of exercise during pregnancy. Do not exercise during pregnancy if you suffer from any of the following complications.

  1. Heart Disease
  2. Lung Disease
  3. Pregnancy Induced Hypertension
  4. Preeclampsia (high blood pressure)
  5. Incompetent Cervix
  6. Vaginal Bleeding
  7. Ruptured Membranes
  8. Placenta Previa after 26 Weeks of Gestation
  9. Preterm Labor During THIS Pregnancy
  10. Risk of Preterm Labor with Multiples
  11. Severe Anemia


How to Exercise During Pregnancy

If you are in great shape and work out regularly when you become pregnant, more than likely you will be able to continue with your workouts. As pregnancy progresses you will need to alter your intensity and positioning. But overall you are generally alright to continue the same type of exercise that your body is conditioned to.

For instance, if you are an avid runner, with your doctor’s clearance you can go right ahead and keep on running! Keep in mind you might have to run shorter distances and also stop to look for a bathroom every 30 minutes.

If you regularly practice yoga, Pilates, and even HIIT you can typically continue exercising in that manner.


Exactly How to Exercise During Pregnancy for the Best Results

Even after reading everything in this article you still might not be confident in finding your own workouts for pregnancy and that’s ok. 

I created a course just for moms like you.

  • Moms who know that exercising while pregnant is one of the best things that they can do for their babies.
  • Moms who want a fit, healthy, more energetic, bump-only pregnancy.
  • Moms who want to know exactly how to strengthen their cores and pelvic floors, back and arms to have less pregnancy aches and pains, less or no incontinence, an easier labor, and less chance of suffering from diastasis recti.
  • Moms-to-be just like you.

The Perfect Pregnancy Fitness Plan is a specially crafted prenatal fitness program designed with all your prenatal needs in mind. This revolutionary program has all the workout routines you need for your entire pregnancy, and teaches you a whole lot about prenatal exercise.

Learn more about the Perfect Pregnancy Fitness Plan and feel confident you are doing the best you can for your prenatal needs and your baby’s genetic outcome. Oh and you can use code 10OFF to save an extra 10% this month only!


Exercises to completely avoid during pregnancy:

  • Avoid high jumping and ballistic movements.
  • Be careful not to overheat, this puts mother and baby in danger. No hot yoga or exercising in extreme heat.
  • Be even more aware than usual of staying hydrated! Your hydration needs are increased during pregnancy, hydrate accordingly.
  • Avoid exercising flat on your back after 12 weeks of pregnancy. This puts pressure on the vena cava and can cause dizziness or fainting. Modify exercises that you would normally perform lying down by placing a bolster underneath you.
  • No scuba diving.
  • Avoid contact sports and extreme sports that could cause an impact to your belly.
  • Don’t hold your breath while working out! Known as the valsava maneuver.


Precautions to take while exercising during pregnancy:

  • Stretch slow and controlled. Do not bounce while you stretch during pregnancy. Your ligaments are very loose to prepare for childbirth and bouncing while stretching can push you too far.
  • Your balance is off! Be wary of any exercising requiring a lot of balance. The further your pregnancy progresses the more thrown off your balance will be.
  • Be careful should you chose to exercise your abdominals during pregnancy. The intraabdominal pressure you experience during pregnancy is without comparison. For this reason, many women suffer from Diastasis Recti (the splitting of the abdominal muscles) during pregnancy. Intense abdominal workouts can cause or exacerbate this condition.

pregnancy workout tricep extensions

The most important thing to remember about exercising during pregnancy is to listen to your body!

That is the primary piece of advice I give to my fitness clients. Listen to what your body tells you during pregnancy. When you’ve had enough when an exercise no longer feels right. You know your body best, so listen to it!

For example, I work out every day. Typically if I set a goal to finish a certain workout or a certain number of sets I reach it, no matter how difficult I set the challenge that day.

But now I’m pregnant again. And while I’m only 8 weeks at the time of writing this I already CANNOT KEEP UP with what I could 2 months ago. I get winded and my heart rate spikes quickly! 

It is important to take extra breaks and recovery times between exercises (or whenever your body tells you that it needs it) to bring your breathing and heart rate down to ideal levels.

A good test for your heart and breathing rates during exercise is very simple and called the “talk test.”

While you’re exercising, can you keep up a conversation? Is your speech becoming broken as you’re panting for air? Or perhaps you can only get one word out at a time!

It’s ok to be a bit out of breath while working out while pregnant, but if you cannot pass the talk test, it’s time to bring the intensity down or take a quick break.

Another great test I recommend for keeping your exercise during pregnancy at a healthy level is called the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).

Your RPE scale (also called the Borg Scale) is a way to personally gauge how hard you are exercising. The RPE scale is based on whatever your fitness level is at the time, because it is judged by how you feel at a given point in exercising.

The Borg scale ranges from 6-20.

  • 6 = no exertion (ex: watching tv)
  • 7-8 = very very light exertion (ex: picking up a magazine)
  • 9-10 = very light (ex: loading the dishwasher)
  • 11-12 = fairly light (ex: walking to the mailbox)
  • 13-14 = somewhat hard, breathing and heart rate increase slightly (ex: power walking)
  • 15-16 = hard, breathing is very quick and heart is pounding (ex: jogging or dancing)
  • 17-18 = very hard, your highest level of energy (ex: HIIT workouts)
  • 19-20 = very, very hard (ex: pushing hardest the last 5 seconds of an exercise to finish strong)

When working out during pregnancy your RPE should be between 11 and 13.

I go over this thoroughly in the Perfect Pregnancy Fitness Plan and because the workouts are designed by trimester, it helps keep you in that target range.

Some Good Exercises to Do Through All 3 Trimesters

1. Bicep Curls
why you should exercise duri

Soon you will be carrying around not only a tiny baby but also all of their things. You want those arms to stay strong to prepare!

Using either a resistance band or dumbbells stand with feet should width apart (or sit in a chair if you are far along in your pregnancy) and your arms down at your sides palms up grasping your weight. Keeping your elbows at your sides, curl your arms up and slowly lower down. Repeat 20 times.

2. Bent Over Tricep Extensions

pregnancy workout tricep extensions

As mentioned before, your arms will need to be strong for everything you are about to be carrying around. When you work one muscle, you want to be strengthening the opposite muscle as well to remain balanced and the strongest. Tricep extensions will help you with motherhood.

Stand in a lunge position with toes pointed forward and one foot in front of the other. Tighten your core and lean forward keeping a straight back. Begin with your upper arm parallel to your sides and forearms bent at a 90-degree angle. Straighten your arms and slowly come back to starting position. Repeat 20 times.

the perfect pregnancy plan

3. Sumo Squats

the importance of exercising while pregnant sumo squats

There are endless variations of squats, but due to a wide stance, sumos are the easiest to do as your belly increases and your balance decreases.

Set your feet at a wide stance with your toes pointed out. Lower your booty to being even with your knees. If your knees pass over your ankles widen your stance. Repeat 20 times.


4. Pelvic Floor Exercises

laying leg raise to strengthen pelvic floor muscles postpartum

Having a strong pelvic floor can help end bladder leakages that come with pregnancy and postpartum, can make childbirth easier, and beginning pelvic floor exercises now makes repairing them postpartum a bit easier. This post about exercises to restore your pelvic floor is also perfect for pregnancy!


5. Diastasis Recti prevention exercises

(Some of these exercises are completed in a supine position after the first trimester be sure to add a bolster underneath yourself to raise your upper body.) These exercises focus on abdominal bracing and strengthening the transverse abdominus which helps with posture, bearing the baby weight, and recovery postpartum. This post details how to avoid diastasis recti and exercises to prevent it that you can work into your routine for pregnancy.


Wrapping Up the Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy

I hope all of your questions were answered here today about whether or not you should be exercising during pregnancy and exactly how to do it!

Exercising during pregnancy (without any contraindications) can have a huge benefit for both mother and baby. Making your pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery all easier; as well as benefitting baby throughout their entire lives.

pregnancy diet and prenatal workout

More Pregnancy Resources from Vigor it Out:

Share this!

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.