Should You Exercise While Pregnant?

The female body goes through many changes during and even after pregnancy. One question we get often is, “Should I exercise while I’m pregnant?” Back in the day, it was recommended to rest as much as possible during pregnancy and avoid exercising. The evidence points in the opposite direction, and now most women are encouraged to work out but with precautions.


ALL WOMEN WITHOUT CONTRAINDICATION

SHOULD BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE DURING PREGNANCY.


This includes both people who were physically active prior to pregnancy and those who were inactive. You read that right, pregnancy can be a great time to start a fitness plan especially if you want to improve the health of the mother and the baby. There are some changes to the body that we need to be aware of when planning an exercise program. There are also certain circumstances that would contraindicate exercise for a pregnant woman.



Changes to the Musculoskeletal System During Pregnancy

  • Increase in body mass

  • Lengthening of abdominal muscles

  • Increase in lumbar lordosis

  • Increase in anterior pelvic tilt

  • Increase in pelvic width

  • Center of gravity shifts forward

  • Joint laxity due to hormonal changes

  • Increased demand on the hip extensors, hip abductors, ankle plantarflexors, and pelvic floor muscles

Absolute Contraindications

  • Unexplained persistent vaginal bleeding

  • Ruptured cervix

  • Having 3+ babies in this pregnancy (triplets +)

  • Pre-eclampsia

  • Placenta previa after 28 weeks

  • Uncontrolled gestational diabetes, hypertension, or thyroid issue

Relative Contraindications

  • Recurrent pregnancy loss

  • Gestational hypertension

  • History of spontaneous preterm birth

  • Twins (after 28 weeks)

  • Malnutrition or eating disorder

Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

  • Reduces maternal weight gain

  • Reduces risk of gestational diabetes

  • Reduces risk of gestational hypertension

  • Less likely to need a C-section

  • Less likely to have fetal macrosomia

  • Reduces risk of postpartum depression

  • Potentially reduces length of 1st and 2nd stages of labor

While it is very safe to exercise during pregnancy, it is wise to get some guidance from a professional especially if you were relatively inactive prior to pregnancy. It is important to monitor pain, dysfunction, and vitals during and after exercise. As physical therapists, we are mindful of diastasis recti and other common conditions that may arise and can guide you through specific triggers to progress or regress movements to meet your specific needs.


Exercising during pregnancy is healthy and recommended for the overwhelming majority of women. Use the above lists as a guideline to determine if you feel comfortable with exercise. However, please consult your physician regarding the safety of exercise for you during this time. Beyond Movement PT can guide you along your path before, during, and after pregnancy to keep both you and your baby safe and healthy.


Corey Hall, PT, DPT

© Copyright 2020 Beyond Movement Physical Therapy, LLC

47 Loveton Circle, Suite P, Sparks, MD 21152

Phone: (410) 357-1529 | Fax: (410) 397-5192

This website does not provide medical advice and does not direct that you undertake any specific exercise or training/rehabilitation regimen. Consult with a physician before undertaking any information found on this website. All visitors to this site must consent to Terms of Use and Notice of Privacy Practices.

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