Pregnancy and Your Workout: What Really Needs to Change?

Share this page
Pin It
Healthy Living

Family Health

Pregnancy and Your Workout: What Really Needs to Change?

September 11, 2013

Fitness during pregnancyConfusion around exercise during pregnancy is widespread. Previously inactive women may be inspired to get moving in anticipation of a 40-pound weight gain in as many weeks. On the other hand, athletic women may prepare to ramp down so as not to risk the health of their growing fetus. Obstetricians used to warn pregnant women to not exercise above a certain heart rate (140 beats per minute) and to be very cautious when exercising during pregnancy. But now, given a growing body of research and an epidemic of excessive weight gain during pregnancy, the tide has turned. Pregnant women are now encouraged to get and keep moving.

While beginning an intensive exercise program during pregnancy is still frowned upon, starting a low-to-moderate intensity program or maintaining an exercise regimen throughout pregnancy and up until the birth of a child is generally considered to be safe and advantageous to the both mother and her developing baby. Specific exercise recommendations during pregnancy vary to some extent based on the pregnant mother’s previous exercise status, as well as the gestational age of the fetus (see tables). However, in all cases, moms are encouraged to incorporate both cardiovascular and resistance training into their week and to listen closely to their bodies when deciding whether to ramp up, ramp down or take a break altogether. And, of course, pregnant women should address all concerns and questions with their physician.

Exercise Recommendations During Pregnancy

Previously Sedentary/Overweight or Obese

Gestational Age

Frequency

Intensity (RPE)*

Time

Type

1-6 weeks

Most, if not all days per week (at least 3-5)

12-15

Approximately 30 minutes of moderate or 60 minutes of light activity most days

Aerobic, large muscle groups (e.g., stationary cycling, swim, walk jog)

6-26 weeks

15-16

Approximately 45 minutes of moderate or 90 minutes of light activity most days

27-40 weeks

13-14

Approx 30 min moderate or 60 min light most days

Throughout

1-2 days

1-2 sets

8-10 exercises

Muscular strengthening;
avoid free weights, do not lie on back

 

Previously Healthy and Active

Gestational Age

Frequency

Intensity (RPE)*

Time

Type

1-6 weeks

4-6 days per week

13-15

Approximately 45 minutes of moderate or 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity most days

Aerobic, large muscle groups (e.g., stationary cycling, swim, walk jog)

6-26 weeks

15-16

Approximately 60 minutes of moderate-vigorous or 40 minutes of vigorous activity most days

27-40 weeks

14-15

Approximately 30 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity most days

Throughout

1-2 days

15-20 repetitions

8-10 exercises

Muscular strengthening; avoid free weights, do not lie on back

*RPE (Ratings of Perceived Exertion) is a scale used to monitor intensity based on the exerciser’s perception of intensity. The scale ranges from 6-20: 6=no exertion, 13-14=somewhat hard, 15-16=hard, 17-18=very hard, 19=extremely hard, 20=maximal exertion.

References

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2011). FAQ 119: Exercise During Pregnancy

Pitkin, R.M. (1999). Energy in pregnancy. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 69, 4, 583.

Zavorsky, G.S. and Longo, L.D. (2011). Exercise guidelines in pregnancy: New perspectives. Sports Medicine, 41, 5, 345-360.

If you found this to be article useful to you or someone else, please share it with your friends!

< Last Article

My Plate Kids Place: The Newest Tool to Inspire Healthy Eaters and Active Kids

Next Article >

Simple Routines Help Boost Kids’ Health

Comments


  • American Council on Exercise (ACE) is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)
  • Millitary friendly schools