Should I Exercise During Pregnancy?

Should I Exercise During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is an exciting time for expectant moms, so many changes in your life. Your body shape, your energy and your expectations. Many are unsure whether exercising when pregnant is safe and if you should exercise while pregnant. There are many benefits to exercising during pregnancy. The most important benefit is to keep your body and mind healthy and strong. It also helps to control excessive weight gain, control gestational diabetes, improve the pelvic floor, prepares your body for the birthing process and shortens your recovery time post labour. 

The rule of thumb is that if you have been exercising regularly before your pregnancy you can continue to do so unless you have any high risk factors. You will have to adapt your exercise program as your pregnancy advances. If you are not in a regular exercise program, but would like to follow a more healthy pregnancy, start off with gentle exercise like walking. Use your common sense and listen to your body.

Jogging, walking and hiking are suitable exercises for most pregnant women

Cardio Exercise

Cardio Exercise helps to prevent or control excessive weight gain and gestational diabetes, It also helps to maintain a healthy heart and lungs for you and the baby. Walking and swimming are ideal exercises when you are pregnant as there is very little stress on the joints. 

If you are a keen runner, then continue jogging through your pregnancy, but if you feel any discomfort in the back, pelvis and tummy, then walking is a better option. Keep your heart rate at a safe level and don’t overheat. 

Exercising whiles pregnant has many benefits including weight control and maintaining a healthy heart and lungs

Pelvic Floor Strengthening

It is important to do regular pelvic floor exercises during the pregnancy as the pelvic floor muscles become strained from the increasing pressure on them due to the baby’s weight gain as it grows and from the strain of the birthing process. With stronger pelvic floor muscles you will avoid incontinence problems after the birth and they help maintain a good pelvic posture.

Pregnancy Pilates, especially on a reformer is an effective and safe form of exercise

Core Strengthening

It is important during your early stages of pregnancy to continue strengthening the core muscles as they help to maintain good posture, to prevent or relieve back pain. Core exercises help to reduce the impact of abdominal separation and speed up the recovery post natal. It is important that you are careful about certain positions while doing core exercises while you are pregnant as some positions are not suitable at the later stages of the pregnancy as the abdominal muscles are extended and unable to support the lower back. Pregnancy Pilates, especially on a reformer is an effective and safe form of exercise. 

For advice or guidance about what exercises are suitable for you during pregnancy, do consult your physiotherapist or medical practitioner. 

Written by

Mel Potgieter

Registered Physiotherapist | HKNA Elite Programme Physiotherapy Partner

Mel is an experienced physiotherapist based out of the Prohealth Sports And Spinal Physiotherapy Centre on Wellington Street, Central. She is an expert in pelvic dysfunction, back pain, getting the core going after pregnancy, post-mastectomy and abdominal /cosmetic surgeries, lymph drainage for cancer patients, as well as acute sports injuries and post surgery rehabilitation. Outside of the clinic, she is a formidable netball player and is active in the Hong Kong Netball Association.