Exercise and Pregnancy

Exercise is an important part of a healthy pregnancy.  Exercise can help to keep your muscles strong so that your body is able to comfortably adapt to the increased weight you will be carrying.  Exercise can decrease stress, improve sleep, and improve mood.  Additionally, exercise may decrease your risk of gestational diabetes and decrease your chances of a higher birth weight baby.  Finally, exercise may also help you to prepare for the strength and stamina needed for labour and delivery.

In deciding which activities are safe to do during pregnancy, it is important to consider any risks associated with the activity, and what your level of physical activity was before you got pregnant.  Here are a few factors to consider when deciding which forms of exercise are best for you:

  • Most professionals will agree that if you were active before pregnancy, that you should be able to safely continue your same level of activity during pregnancy, as long as you’re comfortable
  • Avoid contact sports or sports which could result in a high impact fall, such as downhill skiing or horseback riding
  • Runners may find that within a few months the increased weight of the uterus pushes down too hard on the pelvic floor, and may find it more comfortable to switch to another activity that is lower impact
  • If you weren’t active before pregnancy, it is still a good idea to start an exercise routine. Choose lower intensity activities such as walking, swimming, or prenatal yoga

Regardless of which exercise you do, keep yourself comfortable by wearing loose clothing (many maternity stores have great athletic wear that will fit your changing body).  Drink lots of water, especially in the summer, and avoid exercising outside in the hottest time of the day.  You want to avoid getting too overheated, so if it’s hot out opt for an air-conditioned gym or wait until things cool off in the evening to exercise. 

In trying to decide how much intensity is too much intensity, use the rule-of-thumb that you should be able to carry on a conversation without becoming breathless.  Remember that your blood volume and cardiac output are increased during pregnancy, so your heart is working harder than it was before you got pregnant, even when you’re not moving.  You may notice you tire more easily or that you get out of breath more quickly.  Simply scale back the intensity of your work out to a level that makes you feel comfortable.  Listen to and trust your body. 


There are some conditions or symptoms that could be red flags as to whether or not it is safe for you to exercise (such as bleeding, cramping, or dizziness); when in doubt, talk to your doctor or midwife and get advice on what you can safely do for activity.  For most women, exercise throughout pregnancy will keep you healthy, may make labour easier, and will give your baby a healthy start to life. 


Vancouver Chiropractor, Dr. Laura Gronkjaer
Electra Health Floor – Downtown Vancouver
Electra Building – 970 Burrard St.
Open 7 days a week from 8 am to 8 pm
604-685-4325 (HEAL)

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