Exercising During Pregnancy: Can You Workout While Pregnant?

Exercising During Pregnancy: Can You Workout While Pregnant?

Authored by Marshall on January 22, 2024

Is it possible to work out while pregnant? Overall, the answer to this question is yes. However, everybody is different, and that’s especially true when it comes to pregnancy. 

Some women are able to exercise comfortably throughout pregnancy. We’ve even seen baby bumps in marathons! Others may have specific circumstances or complications, like bed-rest instructions, that make exercise less possible. This is why it’s so important to maintain honest and open communication with your OB-GYN about lifestyle topics like exercise. They will be able to assess your individual needs and circumstances to determine which, if any, workouts are ideal and safe for you and your baby.

In this article, we will discuss the basics of exercise during pregnancy. If you have questions about your specific circumstances relating to pregnancy and exercise, speak with your OB-GYN or doctor first. Once you’ve received advice about your specific circumstances, you can work with our team to develop a routine that aligns with your needs and guidelines. 

Understanding the Importance of Exercising While Pregnant

Once upon a time, pregnant women were told not to exercise. This was for a number of reasons, the primary one being a (false) belief that too much exertion could lead to lower birth weights or premature deliveries. These days, this is not the case. In fact, it’s often the opposite. Studies have disproved the old theories about exercise causing low birth weights and premature births. Exercising during uncomplicated singleton pregnancies is now not only approved but also generally encouraged. 

There are several reasons that obstetricians and doctors tend to recommend exercise during pregnancy. Prenatal exercise can help prepare the body for labor and reduce the risks of dangerous complications like deep venous thrombosis, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. It may even relieve some of the physical discomforts associated with pregnancy.

Assessing Your Fitness Level Before Pregnancy

Not all pregnancy fitness routines look the same. Some moms-to-be have been working out for decades ahead of their pregnancy. Others are following medical advice to exercise during pregnancy and are starting from square one. This history has an impact on what your exercise routine will look like during pregnancy.

For experienced athletes, it might be possible to continue with your current routine—albeit with a few modifications. If you typically engage in high-intensity exercise, your doctor will likely recommend that you bring it down to a lower-impact version so your heart rate does not exceed 140-150 beats per minute. You may also be advised to stick to shorter routines. A typical recommendation is to exercise for 30 minutes a day.

For gym newcomers, you’ll be starting from scratch. This is exciting, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Engaging in a fitness routine for the first time when you’re pregnant might look different than it would in other circumstances. Your doctor may recommend that you only exercise for 10 minutes a day and choose workouts that aren’t overly strenuous. You might be told to focus on lower-impact movements like walking or swimming. It could be helpful to work with a fitness coach to navigate this—especially one who has experienced pregnancy herself!

An Evolving Routine

Your body changes daily during pregnancy, so you may need to tailor your routine to adapt to different trimesters and conditions. A fitness coach is a helpful asset in this situation. They’ll help ensure that your routine changes to suit your evolving needs.

During the first trimester, many people experience nausea and fatigue. For this reason, light exercise might be ideal. If the weather is nice, a walk can be a great way to get some fresh air and move your body while dealing with those uncomfortable symptoms.  

Your second trimester often sees more energy and fewer bouts of morning sickness. You may feel more comfortable engaging in exercises like swimming, prenatal yoga, stationary cycling, or modified weight training—but stick to 25 pounds and under. During this time, you may find that workouts that require you to lay flat on your back are not ideal anymore.

It’s best to avoid high-impact activities and any workouts that run the risk of injury or falling, like gymnastics, horseback riding, or most contact or fighting-based sports. It’s also best to avoid high-altitude exercise (like skydiving, skiing, or mountain climbing) or scuba diving until after the baby comes.

The third trimester looks different for everybody. Many people make significant adaptations to their fitness routine during this time or are advised to abstain entirely. There are many circumstances where people are told to avoid exercise in their third trimester, like cervical issues, spotting/bleeding, or pregnancy-related health complications. Be sure to communicate with your OB-GYN and your fitness coach to ensure you are taking all the right safety measures. 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Working Out During Pregnancy

Working out during pregnancy is generally safe—but it does come with rules. Here are some of the most important ones.

  • Do: Stay Hydrated

Hydration is always important during workouts, but it’s even more crucial when you’re pregnant. Be sure to consume plenty of water before your workout, and pay attention to your hydration levels as you go. If you experience any signs of dehydration, stop your workout immediately and get in touch with your doctor. 

  • Don’t: Forget Your Warmup (and Cooldown!)

Warming up and cooling down are integral to workout safety—and that’s imperative to exercising while pregnant. Doing this will ease you in and out of your workouts and make sure that your muscles are safe when you move. If you skip this, you could risk injury.

  • Do: Keep Cool 

Pregnant athletes must take extra care not to get overheated during workouts. It’s best to exercise in a cool, temperate environment, especially if it’s summertime. Avoid outdoor workouts during hot/humid weather, and choose indoor spaces that are properly ventilated or air-conditioned.

  • Don’t: Keep It Secret 

If you’re taking a workout class or exercising with a fitness coach, speak up. Your teacher or coach should know that you’re pregnant and be aware of any specific advice or instructions from your OB-GYN. They’ll help ensure that your fitness routines align with those guidelines and that you’re performing everything safely. 

  • Do: Trust Your Doctor

Your OB-GYN and healthcare team know what they’re doing and understand your unique needs and circumstances. Communicate with them thoroughly about your relationship with exercise, your existing routine, and your plans for working out during pregnancy. Listen to their advice and take it seriously. They have your best interest in mind.

Getting Back to Your Routine Postpartum

Once you’ve taken your baby home, you may wonder if it’s time to hit the gym again. This is generally considered a great idea. Many athletes find joy and empowerment when engaging in a postpartum workout routine. In fact, working out after giving birth can help with sleep regulation and combat symptoms of postpartum depression.

If you’re planning to hit the gym postpartum, there will be a few temporary modifications to consider. If your birth was complicated or included a cesarean, you’ll likely need to modify your workout to accommodate your physical recovery. Breastfeeding athletes might need to pump or nurse ahead of a workout and wear a highly supportive bra during exercise. 

As with pregnancy, be sure to tell your coach that you are newly postpartum and share relevant information about your body. This will help them to ensure that your workout is safe and ideal for your circumstances. 

Looking for a Supportive Space to Work Out?

If you’re expecting a bundle of joy, Jack City is the safe and supportive environment that you need. Everything that we offer—like niche classes, customizable coaching, and 24/7 access—was established with one mission in mind: to help Boise’s athletes grow and meet their goals. Whether you want specialized equipment, remote training sessions, or women’s only workout classes, we’re here to make sure that your pregnancy features a safe and comfortable gym experience. And once the baby comes, we’ll continue to support you.

If you’re ready to get started, give us a call at (208) 999-1111. You’ll be invited to our Boise gym for a FREE InBody fitness consultation and a chance to meet our team and see our amenities up close. If you sign up to become a Partner, you can get started right away.

We can’t wait to meet you…and eventually, your little one too!










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