How much exercise is safe in pregnancy? What do I need to stop?
You may be nervous about exercising in pregnancy. Many of our pregnant patients have been told or assumed they need to “take it easy” to protect their baby. This is only partly true. There are indeed some forms of exercise that are not recommended in pregnancy, including exercising in extremes of temperature, at extremes of elevation, or where there is a risk of injury, particularly direct abdominal injury or a fall (most important 2nd trimester and beyond). Activities to avoid include scuba diving, sky diving, most team sports and surfing.
However, exercise in general is much more likely to be helpful than harmful. Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week; that’s just 30min per day 5 days per week! This level of exercise does not increase risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or prematurity. Exercising regularly lowers your risk of many pregnancy complications, including pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, and it can lower your chance of needing an assisted (vacuum/forceps) delivery or a c-section.
Ideally exercise should include a mix of aerobic and strength training. Examples of safe activities include walking (be careful if there’s ice!), swimming, light weights and prenatal yoga classes. While pregnancy is not the ideal time to take up running, if you’re already a runner, this is generally safe to continue within reason. It’s easier to faint in pregnancy, so ensure you’re staying hydrated and don’t exercise if it’s really hot out. If you’re exercising so hard that you can’t talk, or it’s hurting, then scale it back.
Of course, every pregnancy and patient are unique, and these recommendations do not apply to everyone. A healthy individual with a low-risk pregnancy can feel reassured that exercise is safe and beneficial, keeping certain precautions in mind. But, if you have health issues or a higher risk pregnancy (twins or more, placenta previa, cervical insufficiency, high blood pressure etc.) then check with your doctor before embarking on an exercise regimen.
Your Calgary maternity clinic physician will help guide you in making the right choice. Get in touch with our team of trusted and experienced professionals at (403)281-2020 and on our website https://www.oakbaymedical.ca/maternity-clinic-calgary
2019 Canadian Guideline for Physical Activity throughout Pregnancy