Exercise During Pregnancy – Arguments

To state the obvious…there is a lot of controversy around exercising during pregnancy.

Should you work out? Should you run? Should you watch your heart rate? Should you refrain from starting anything new?

I was happy when this link popped up in one of my weekly pregnancy emails (a few weeks ago) about how exercise is labor preparation. For the most part I have only found books, articles and information about how women really need to take it easy during pregnancy. These sources generally encourage pregnant women to walk or lift light weights for exercise and to keep their heart rate very low.

However, here’s what the article mentioned above said:

Exercise is now considered an important part of a healthy pregnancy. “People used to think rest was the norm and exercise was dangerous, but now we realize that in a pregnancy free of complications, the opposite is true,” says Mona Shangold, M.D., director of the Center for Women’s Health and Sports Gynecology in Philadelphia.


Working out during pregnancy

I haven’t been going to the gym much since our studio is finished (see pics on facebook), but I was there a few weeks ago and a woman I used to see a lot congratulated me on my pregnancy. She asked all of the normal questions (when are you due, what are you having, etc.) and then of course went on to ask if I was keeping my heart rate low enough and told me to be careful. I assured her that I was a personal trainer and that I was taking care of myself.

I’ve had other people yell at me for carrying things up stairs or even picking up something they deem too heavy for a pregnant woman to carry.  I understand that it’s important to get more sleep, and more rest in general, but it’s also important not to give up on everything you normally do in your daily life. You can still do laundry (sorry!) and yes, you can still workout (unless your doc tells you otherwise). I have absolutely had to modify my training at different times during my pregnancy and I’m sure I will have to continue to modify it even more over the next 2 months.

Although I feel out of shape compared to how I was pre-pregnancy, I know that my body is hard at work and I am maintaining my strength and endurance the best that I can during this pregnancy. Next week I will post more details about working out during pregnancy and what exactly I had to change during each trimester to make my workouts work for me. Overall, I truly feel that working out has helped me avoid a lot of common pregnancy symptoms. I have had very few backaches. I have not experienced swelling in my hands and feet. My blood pressure has been fantastic. My weight gain is within the normal range. My energy levels have been good.

All of that said, every pregnancy is different. I highly recommend working with a personal trainer at least for a few sessions during your pregnancy to find out what you can keep doing and what to stay away from. It’s always important to listen to your body, but even more so during pregnancy. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it! Use common sense and consult with an expert.

What are your thoughts on working out during pregnancy? Did you work out when you were pregnant? Do you plan to continue working out when you become pregnant?

My other pregnancy posts:


  1. Courtney Hughes says:

    I’m currently 22 weeks pregnant and worked out regularly before pregnancy. I was very sick during my first trimester and didn’t do much at all. However, since about 10 weeks I’ve been back in the gym working out regularly. I often do a mile on the treadmill and bike. I do prenatal yoga, sumo squats and lift light weights for arms. I honestly haven’t felt this great in a long time! However, I’m getting more and more comments about how I “need to take it easy” and not work out. I’m honestly not hard core by any means and after hearing about 10 comments recently it’s beginning to get to me.. My doctor says everything I’m doing is just fine as long as I feel good and highly encouraged me to continue working out. I told someone the other day that my lower back hurts sleeping but once I wake up and do some yoga the pain goes away completely. That was then followed by a comment on how I shouldn’t do that and just take it easy…??? So I just said it takes my back pain goes away… and she thinks I shouldn’t do yoga?!? All I know is that I am not overdoing it and I can confidently say I feel great ! So I’m keeping it up no matter the comments! Just want to say I enjoyed this post and it’s encouraging that there are people out there that believe pregnancy fitness is a huge plus instead of a huge negative. Sorry I just “vented” you a book. HA!

  2. Wow, I relate to this post more than you could know! :) I’m 37 weeks, still working out and feeling good. I was hesitant to post pregnancy workout videos on my blog for several months so as not to have to explain myself over and over to others that I WAS indeed following guidelines that were suitable for my fitness level. But I decided it’s time to share and your posts are making me feel better about that decision (although I am already facing some ‘doubters’). Again, excellent site!

  3. Catherine says:

    My doc told me to stop working out with my trainer since no matter what I do during the day I get lightheaded and that I am soo early in my pregnancy I need to watch what I do. She suggest I just walk from now on. She said I need to listen to my body now and if it makes me lightheaded stop doing it.

    • Your doctor is definitely very right! I always stress that the most important thing is to listen to your body. Our bodies are smart and often tell us if we are overdoing it. I hope you feel better soon and good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

  4. Glad you are enjoying the posts! Nice to “meet” you Brittany! Let me know if you have any questions at all …it’s always great to talk to other mom’s to be!

  5. I totally agree that exercise helps you feel sane, strong and healthy during pregnancy – and reminds you of that you are so much more than “just” a baby-making-machine…However, if you can`t exercise as it was the case for one of the commentators you have to focus on other things that you can do to ensure your baby`s and your own health – especially nutrition. If you eat super healthy you also have the good felling of making right choices every day…And I think nutrition is more important for a healthy weight gain than exercise is…I am very curious about more information on your routine!

  6. Exercise has kept me sane and I believe kept most of those typical pregnancy symptoms at bay. I had a low lying placenta in the beginning of my pregnancy as well and was very disappointed by the fact that I might not be able to exercise. I was so happy that it went away and I really feel terrible for those that having morning sickness and/or are instructed not to exercise per doctor’s orders.

    I really miss running, especially in this final trimester, but found that I can do a light jog while out walking and that helps to keep me content for now! Also, talking with other mothers-to-be and new mothers that exercise has been great. I love seeing new moms get right back at it after they get the all clear from the doc!

    Thanks for this blog … You are truly an inspiration and a motivation! I thought I was going to obsess over heart rate and overheating at the start of my pregnancy and drove myself crazy for a few months there. You are right. It’s common sense. Don’t do what doesn’t feel good, but don’t quit either. Exercise has alleviated nausea, extra weight gain and stabilized my mood – among other things!

    And to Callie … You look fantastic and you’ll be jogging with a stroller in no time!

    • Exercise has helped to keep me sane as well. Like you, I miss running, but I’m sure it will feel even better once I can get back into it. I miss sprinting and lifting heavy weights. I really miss pullups and chinups too. Some people are able to run right up until they are due and I know a few other people who have done chinups during their pregnancies. I was able to do all of these things towards the beginning of my pregnancy, but had to stop when things just didn’t feel right. I think exercising in the beginning of pregnancy was hard because I was nervous, but as I’ve become more comfortable with being preggo it’s gotten easier (at least mentally)! :)

      • Oh, yes! I forgot about chin ups! I am afraid that it will take awhile to get back on track with those … and planks. I remember early in my pregnancy jumping up on our chin up bar and hoisting myself up. Something felt very, very bad and I immediately felt guilty! Looking forward to starting again :)

        • HA…same happened to me with chin ups. Just didn’t feel right anymore. I am still doing planks…those actually have been okay for me! Everyone is different…

  7. I fully expected to workout during pregnancy, but it’s just not been possible for me. I have Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction (SPD) which makes it painful for me to even go for long walks. Between that and my extra loose joints, I have really had to cut down my activity. (My SI joint slipped out of place one night – VERY painful!) I’m definitely one of those pregnant women who takes the elevator instead of the stairs, can’t lift heavy things, etc etc. It’s frustrating, but it’s just reality for me.

    I think the biggest thing I have learned about pregnancy is that no two pregnancies are the same. It’s easy to make generalizations about pregnant women, but each experience is so individual. I have been very fortunate that I have been able to keep my weight down and stay in pretty good shape, despite my limited activity. I’ve tried to focus on eating healthy – not “eating for two”. My weight is within the normal range, I haven’t had any swelling of my feet or ankles, my blood pressure is good, etc etc. I just say that to mention that even if you can’t work out, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a healthy pregnancy – it just might look a little different than you might have expected!

    • Callie – you are exactly right! I always try to mention that you can workout (as long as your doctor says it’s okay or you don’t have some other complication). I think it’s awesome that you’ve still been able to remain healthy and I’m sure you know, nutrition is the number one way to achieve good health, much more so than exercise. I’m sure you have had to be more mindful of what you’re eating than if you were able to workout, and sounds like you have nailed that! There have been a few things that came up during my pregnancy and if they lasted I was told I wouldn’t be able to workout (ex. possible placenta previa they saw in 1st trimester, but fortunately it went away in my 2nd trimester). You have a much different situation than many women I have seen who just choose not to workout because they have heard that they should only walk or not start new programs, or even worse, use pregnancy as an excuse to not work out because they don’t feel like it. I know you want to workout and I have no doubts that you’ll be back at it in no time. :) Best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

  8. I’m so glad you commented on my page! Because now I can spend my afternoon going through all your posts! :) Love all the insight on pregnancy and staying healthy – thanks!

  9. Amy Caron says:

    I lift a lot, and I lift heavy, it’s the only exercise that I really enjoy, and when I got pregnant I decided to be really dedicated to keep lifting all of the way through.

    I got kinda nervous, and at times could feel loose ankles, as well as exhaustion, and scaled back how much I was lifting. I found that I just don’t have the stability to do one legged deadlifts, some lunges, etc. I lost my chinup at about 5 months — I was a pretty low bodyfat % and gained a lot of weight, and the chinups activate my upper abs in an uncomfortable way now that they are in a new position.

    Today there was nothing I craved more than a heavy day. I’m 29 weeks, I’m 37 years old, and my belly is more wide that protuding, so my balance is still good. I racked up 135 for my (plie!) squats, they felt easy, and racked more for the second set — the third set I did 8 reps at 185, and honestly, it is the best I have felt in …. months. I am pretty sure I could have done more, but I didn’t have a spot or anything today, so left it at that. Did Romanian deadlifts at 115. I gave up on the incline bench because my shoulders feel loose.

    I just need to say — I FEEL SO GODDAMN GOOD TO LIFT AGAIN. My body really needed that, absolutely craved it.

    I’ve tried to do what the midwives tell me — run, walk, swim… but my hips are coming out of joint and I’ve needed the chiropractor to put it back in so I could walk again due to the stress of running and swimming.

    Safe, slow, heavy lifting isn’t popping my hip out of joint like the cardio did.

    I feel like a million bucks after my (scaled-back-from-normal!) heavy lifting day. Whew! Can’t wait to get back over 200!

  10. So excited for you! I definitely know what you mean…I had a few times during pregnancy where I just had an amazing workout and felt AWESOME. IT really is the best feeling in the world, especially when you haven’t been able to really get after it hard for awhile.

    Sounds like you are listening to your body and stopping before you hurt yourself, but still able to go heavy when you feel up to it. YAY!

    Best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy!


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