Is It Safe to Exercise When Pregnant?

From DNA | Lifestyle |

Dr A Arun Kumar, Fitness Head,  Snap Fitness pan India

Pregnancy is an experience which gives the feeling of completeness to a woman. It is accompanied by several changes which occur in a women’s body, physiological and physical. Exercising during pregnancy has great benefits — it can help prepare you for labour and childbirth and lift your spirits — but approach working out with extra caution. Healthy women with an uncomplicated pregnancy do not need to limit their exercise for fear of adverse effects.

Participation in a wide range of recreational activities appears safe during and after pregnancy.

Get the approval of a physician before you exercise.

In the absence of medical or obstetric complications, 30 to 40 minutes of moderate physical activity at least three days a week is recommended.

Women who were sedentary prior to pregnancy should begin with light intensity low impact activities such as walking and swimming.

Pregnancy requires an additional 300 Kcal/day.

Try to exercise indoors to provide environmental control to avoid excess heat, cold and air pollution.

Prioritise your clothing, environmental considerations and adequate hydration while working out to prevent hyperthermia.

Increase carbohydrate intake (eg. 30 to 50 g) with food and sports drinks prior to exercise.

Motionless standing results in venous blood pooling, so it should be avoided.

Avoid exercise in lying down position and motionless standing position.

Avoid brisk exercise in hot, humid weather or when you have a fever.

Avoid exercise that involves the risk of abdominal trauma, fall and excessive joint stress.

Stop exercising if there is

Vaginal bleeding
Chest pain
Muscle weakness
Calf pain or swelling
Preterm labour
Decreased fetal movement
Amniotic fluid leakage

Dr Samar Gupte, consultant gynecologic oncosurgeon, Hinduja Hospital

Exercising and recreational activity/sports in pregnancy has been extensively studied over the last 35 years and despite the fact that pregnancy is associated with profound anatomical and physiological changes, exercise has minimal risks and confirmed benefits for most women. As the body changes, hormonal changes lead to laxity of the muscles and ligaments. This can lead to joint laxity and increases chances for injuries during exercise.

Weight-bearing exercises should be overseen by a healthcare professional. Pelvic support belts and core stability work can be used.

Maintain adequate hydration and avoid exercising in very hot, humid environments when not acclimatised to such conditions.

Consume adequate calories and limiting exercise sessions to less than 45 minutes.

Less active women should begin with 15 minutes continuous exercise thrice a week, increasing gradually 30 minutes four times a week.

Aquanatal exercises(exercises in water or in a swimming pool) are quite helpful and aid in stretching and relaxation.

Post delivery, women should participate in moderate physical activity.


Contact sports like hockey, football etc should be avoided.

Watch for increased body temperature, specially in the first trimester.

At altitudes above 2,500 metres, women should avoid exertion or exercise wait four-five days for acclimatising.

Do not an attempt to reach peak fitness or train for an athletic contest.

Scuba diving should be completely avoided, and also horseback riding, cycling, downhill skiing and gymnastics.


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