Fitness during Pregnancy

As women, pregnancy is a unique time in our lives, when we are not only responsible for our own bodies but the one growing inside us as well. Today, we are seeing many more obese women during pregnancy. Our wonderful, unborn babies are powerful motivators to improve ourselves and in the process improve the health of our children, both born and unborn!

If you are a person who is very active and physically fit you can continue your current level of fitness well into the third trimester of pregnancy. If you have previously been inactive, this is a great time to start a simple exercise routine. Physicians know that women who keep up their exercise routine during pregnancy end up more fit than when they started. They also have a lower chance for heart disease and osteoporosis later in life than women who give up exercise during pregnancy. Your baby will also benefit from your exercise. Babies whose mothers exercise during pregnancy become accustomed to physical stress, and feel less stress during labor and birth. Babies born to mothers who exercise also have healthier birth weights and are less likely to become overweight or obese later in life.

The following list contains tips for establishing effective exercise routines during pregnancy:

  • If you were not physically active prior to pregnancy, this is not the time to train for a marathon or start Cross Fit.  It would be better to just get out and walk at a brisk pace for the recommended time of 30-60min.
  • Use “perceived exertion” as a way to monitor your intensity. This means that you should be working hard enough to raise your heart rate, and still be able to hold a conversation. 
  • Pregnancy is a time for maintaining fitness, not high intensity work-outs.
  • Avoid lying on your back for exercise after 16 weeks.
  • Avoid sit-ups or crunches. For a strong core (important to support your growing uterus) do squats, lunges, or other stabilizing lower body movement.
  • If you are participating in Cross Fit or similar work out type, you can continue to do these workouts with appropriate modifications. 
  • is an excellent resource for work out modifications during pregnancy pertaining to Cross Fit. 
  • also an excellent site for nutrition and exercise information in pregnancy.

Exercise is such an important part of my life now. I am active in running, hiking, biking and Cross Fit training. I cannot imagine not getting up to exercise. I do have to go to bed early and get up at the crack of dawn, but it is worth it. My children are observing me and learning that being active is important for healthy bodies. 

We are our children’s role models and if we want them to be healthy, we need to model healthy behavior for them.

-Kimberly Bock, MD