During pregnancy, you will be bombarded by old wive’s tales from all directions regarding how to maintain a safe and healthy pregnancy. For example, not too many generations ago, corsets were the fashion choice of women who wished to be taken seriously in civilised society. Hence, pregnant women were expected to wear pregnancy corsets (which you can read as, slightly bigger corsets that were still a terrible idea for pregnant women). The ancient Greeks advised against warm water for cleaning, as they believed the heat would loosen and dislodge the baby prematurely from the womb. There’s even some 15th century advice that says eating fish could result in the baby developing a pointed mouth. Science has come a long way.
If you are pregnant, you have probably done a lot of research on what you can and can’t do in terms of diet and exercise. You want to get your health right. That’s natural. You also probably worry about getting it wrong. That’s natural, too (you’ve no doubt looked up how to prevent birth defects and looked into things like what are the common issues and what is cerebral palsy?). Now, to exercise…
Is exercise during pregnancy safe?
The short answer is that yes, regular exercise during pregnancy is safe, with certain caveats. Aside from anything, exercise keeps your body healthy and helps to reduce the impact of common pregnancy complaints such as backache. What is important to note is that regular exercise during a healthy pregnancy does not increase the risk of a miscarriage or premature birth. The caveats are simply not to overdo it – stick to around 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise per week. This includes activities like brisk walks that don’t raise your heart rate to a level where you experience difficulty in holding a fluent conversation.
Walking is safe … what else is safe?
Sticking to regular walks that amass to a weekly total of around 2.5 hours is a great start, but may become a little repetitive. Other activities that you may wish to consider include swimming (avoid the sauna), exercise bike (this reduces the risk of falling that may occur in the open on a real bike), yoga, and potentially a limited amount of strength training (e.g. lifting weights – always speak to your healthcare provider about a workout that is safe for you).