On an episode of the Healthful Woman podcast, Dr. Stephanie Melka and Dr. Fox discussed whether women can exercise during their pregnancies. Dr. Melka talks about exercise during pregnancy with patients “at least several times a day”, because there are many myths surrounding what is safe or healthy. Dr. Fox also finds that “often, the advice that [pregnant patients] are given is directly opposed to what’s healthy.”
Virtually any type of exercise that patients would normally enjoy can be continued through a pregnancy. This includes popular forms of exercise like yoga, Pilates, aerobics or dance classes, and walking or running. Dr. Melka explains that she doesn’t generally put a limit on exercise for her patients, except to warn against activities that may be dangerous to the patient’s safety, such as riding a bike outside. or too strenuous. She says that while “this is probably not the time to start training for a marathon,” patients should exercise according to their fitness level prior to pregnancy.
Many exercises can also be modified slightly to make them safer or easier during pregnancy. For example, you may be advised to switch from a hot yoga class to another type of yoga to avoid risk of overheating or overstretching, or you may switch to indoor cycling to avoid some risks of biking outdoors.
For many patients who feel joint pain, swelling, or nausea during pregnancy, swimming can be an excellent form of exercise that relieves some discomfort.
Most types of exercise that should be avoided are due to risks to the mother’s safety. Activities with risk of physical trauma, such as biking or skiing, should be avoided to prevent falling and associated injuries. Additionally, a woman’s center of gravity shifts during pregnancy, and joints loosen due to increased ligament laxity. This leads to women feeling “more clumsy”, even outside of exercise. Women should use caution to decrease risk of tripping/falling while active.
There are many benefits of exercise during pregnancy, many of which are the same benefits that you would normally receive. These include maintaining a healthy weight, improving cardiovascular function, and improving mental health. In addition, exercising throughout pregnancy can help avoid complications such as gestational diabetes or hypertension and prevent the baby from growing too large. Finally, some studies have found that exercising regularly can help prevent preterm birth.
There are a few conditions that would prevent a patient from exercising while pregnant, such as placenta previa or cerclage. Some twin or multiple pregnancies would also prevent a woman from exercising. Dr. Fox explains that generally, “common sense has to be used,” meaning that women should stop exercising if they experience contractions or other symptoms. Overall, your OB/GYN will advise you if you have a condition that would prevent you from exercising.
To schedule an appointment at Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates in New York City, call our office at (212) 235-1335 or contact us online.
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!