Doctors Urge More Exercise for Women when Pregnant

Many years ago, the advice given by doctors to pregnant women was to rest-up. This historic advice for pregnant women, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), can be harmful.

Now, doctors are advising more exercise for women when pregnant.

Can you believe that pregnant women were told to get as much rest as possible during their pregnancy, even prolonged bed rest if complications arise.

Not to mention the nutritional advice that you should be ‘eating for two.’

According to the JAMA, however, “these misguided recommendations” have “evolved into a major contributor to the worldwide obesity epidemic.”

Fifty years ago, gynaecological medicine stated the requirement for women to gain enough weight to provide for healthy foetal growth.

But now, the advice has changed.

Doctors Urge More Exercise for Women when Pregnant

Did you know?

About 45 percent of current mothers-to-be begin their pregnancy in an overweight or obese state, vs. 24 percent in 1983.

Did you also know that almost half of pregnant women now gain more weight in the nine months of their pregnancy than the amounts recommended by the Institute of Medicine?

Consequences of being overweight when pregnant?

Experts now believe that obesity fuels obesity through the generations. So what they are saying is that an overweight mother is likely to have overweight children.

Being overweight and not exercising can be passed along both through genes and through lifestyle and environment.

More exercise for pregnant women

The JAMA Viewpoint

The JAMA Viewpoint looks at four key aspects of exercise during pregnancy:

1. safety
2. benefits
3. the when and how
4. precautions.

The Study and Results

A recent meta-analysis of studies with more than 2,500 pregnant women found no risk of preterm birth or low birth-weight children among normal-weight women who exercised.

There is clear evidence that moderate exercise is now recommended even for women who did not exercise before becoming pregnant. Yes, even if you didn’t exercise previously there is no reason why you can’t start now.

But just before you do so.

I want to emphasize the point that you MUST seek medical approval prior to starting any new exercise program. This is in case your personal situation prevents your from doing so.

Once Approved, You Can Get Started!

When pregnant, if you haven’t been doing so, then you can introduce healthy lifestyle choices and habits.

The Benefits of Exercising during Pregnancy

1. less macrosomia (birth of children weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces).

2. less gestational diabetes.

3. less Preeclampsia.

4. fewer Caesarean-section deliveries.

5. less low-back pain.

6. less pelvic girdle pain.

7. lower frequency of urinary incontinence.

Lower rates of macrosomia are also linked to lower child and adolescent obesity, which can contribute to weight problems in adulthood.

More activity when pregnant will keep you fit and healthy

Is Exercise Safe when Pregnant?

Studies now indicate that it is safe for pregnant women to do moderate strength training from the time of the first prenatal visit (about weeks 9-12) until just before delivery.

Are you in a High Risk group?

If you have one of the following conditions you should be careful exercising. Please seek medical advice or even discontinue exercise.

  1. anaemia
  2. placenta previa
  3. pre-term contractions
  4. high blood pressure
  5. persistent vaginal bleeding
  6. poor growth of the baby
  7. twins
  8. heart disease
  9. pelvic instability

How Long Should I Exercise for?

20 to 30 minutes per day on most days of the week is recommended. Listen to your body and when needed, have a rest. This could include a relaxation session or yoga class.

What about Intensity?

This is always the challenge for many women who started their pregnancy with a high level of fitness. I get it, you want to keep exercising at a high level and pushing yourself. But now is not the time to try and set new personal bests!

The guideline for exercise intensity is the “talk test.” Hhhhmmmm…what is this?

Well, it’s now how much you can talk. But it is based on you being able to carry on a conversation while exercising. This ensures you are not over-exerting yourself.

What Exercises Must be Avoided?

1. Long-distance running.


1. Because it can raise body temperature and/or cause dehydration.

2. exercising at greater than 90 percent of maximum heart rate.

3. lifting heavy weights.

4. performing isometric exercises.

5. exercising in a supine position during the last two trimesters.

How Can I Stray Motivated?

From experience, I know that you will be more likely to stick with an exercise plan if it involves activities you enjoy. And it must fit into your lifestyle and daily schedule.

Consider these tips:

1. Try a class

I love teaching my prenatal classes. Along with studio classes, you can find qualified prenatal instructors teaching in health centres, sports medicine clinics and hospitals.

2. Start slowly then progress

You don’t need to join a gym or go full-out when starting to exercise. In fact, I want you to start slowly and progress with each week. Just get moving by walking if that’s best for you.

3. Exercise with a partner

Exercise can be more interesting if you use the time to chat with a friend. You will encourage each-other when needed to get out and be active.

Listen to your body

Watch for signs of a problem.

Stop exercising if you have:

1. Dizziness

2. Headache

3. Vaginal bleeding.

4. Increased shortness of breath before you start exercising.

5. Chest pain.

6. Painful uterine contractions that continue after rest.

7. Calf pain or swelling.

What about diet when pregnant?

Lisa Bodnar, University of Pittsburgh associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, published a study that revealed alarmingly high percentages of added sugars and solid fats in the women’s diets when pregnant.

“Many women gain too much weight during pregnancy, and this has become a major public health concern,” Bodnar says.

“Excessive weight gain. during pregnancy increases women’s risks of retaining that weight postpartum, and also of having a child who becomes obese.”

What about diet when pregnant?

Your Children’s Future

Maternal inactivity is a major health issue because it affects both current and future generations. When you include adequate exercise or activity into your daily schedule it regulates both appetite and energy expenditure.

As a result, it improves birth outcomes for both mother and child.

What if I am Not Pregnant Yet?

Then now is the time to get active! Yes, the optimal time to improve maternal fitness is before pregnancy which why PregActive has a dedicated health and fitness program for women planning for pregnancy.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

To further back up this important point of exercising during pregnancy, here’s what the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated.

“Regular physical activity during pregnancy improves or maintains physical fitness, helps with weight management, reduces the risk of gestational diabetes in obese women, and enhances psychological well-being.”

What should you do now?

If you are planning on getting pregnant, or are currently pregnant, then your first step is to booking in a visit with your doctor.

Once you have been cleared to exercise, look for a qualified prenatal exercise instructor in your local area.

If there is not one nearby, then my online pregnancy health and fitness program is an ideal way to stay fit in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

So now, more than ever, you have numerous reasons to stay fit and exercise throughout your pregnancy.

Just remember, how you exercise in the first trimester will be different to how you exercise in the third trimester.

I’m Here to Help YOU!

Pregactive for pregnancy health, mind and body