Can You Exercise While Pregnant?

Can You Exercise While Pregnant?

Ahhh I can hear it right now all the comments people have to say about pregnant woman working out. It’s amazing how some people seem to know it all and feel like they need to chime in while you’re simply trying to stay fit and healthy in the gym.

As anything goes for pregnancy its always best to consult with your physician prior to adding anything new into your daily routine or even to continue doing certain physical activities. Every woman goes through their own pregnancy journey some of which are more high risk then others. So it’s always a great idea to consult your doctor beforehand.

One of the biggest concerns for pregnant woman is the fear of gaining too much weight. The truth is you know you’ll gain weight because that’s what sustains a healthy pregnancy, but the key is to not gain too much weight. In doing so, exercise and a healthy diet will be the two critical components to minimizing excessive weight gain during pregnancy. There is synergy between nutrition and exercising. The body seems to use nutrients better when a woman exercises. The emotional and psychological sense of well-being is an added benefit. What’s more, a woman who feels better during her pregnancy is likely to take better care of herself.

The medical community is moving from a somewhat restrictive attitude concerning exercise during pregnancy to one that is more liberal. In 2002, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published exercise guidelines for pregnancy and reaffirmed them in 2009. The guidelines state that if not contraindicated, exercise during pregnancy appears to be safe. Recommended activities include aerobics (low-impact and water are preferred), bicycling, swimming and walking. Strength training is recommended because it may help prevent some of the aches and pains common in pregnancy, and improve muscle tone (1). Regular physical activity during pregnancy improves or maintains physical fitness, helps with weight management, reduces the risk of gestational diabetes in obese women, and enhances psychologic well-being.

The absolutely contraindicated activities during pregnancy include scuba diving and waterskiing; other activities that should be avoided include downhill skiing, gymnastics, high-altitude sports, hockey and horseback riding

Physical changes to the body need to be taken into consideration when designing an exercise program for pregnancy. The most distinct changes during pregnancy are increased weight gain and a shift in the point of gravity that results in progressive lordosis. These changes lead to an increase in the forces across joints and the spine during weight-bearing exercise. As a result, more than 60% of all pregnant women experience low back pain (2). Strengthening of abdominal and back muscles could minimize this risk.The increases in hormones cause a slackening of abdominal muscles and relaxation of joints. Undue stress on these areas of the body should be avoided.


  • Invest in a heart rate monitor– This was constantly attached to me or in my gym bag. I wore it every time I went spinning and even when I weight trained. According to the Mayo Clinic, the maximum pregnancy heart rate recommended by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists was once 140 beats per minute. As of November 2010, however, ACOG does not outline specific heart-rate numbers. Instead, ACOG endorses using the talk test to determine an appropriate heart rate — if you can talk normally during exercise, you are at an appropriate heart rate.For a more precise heart-rate measurement, the Fit Pregnancy website recommends pregnant women use target heart ranges. Unfit, sedentary or overweight women ages 20 to 29 should aim for 129 to 144 beats per minute; those 30 to 39 should stay within 128 to 144. Active women ages 20 to 29 should aim for 132 to 152 BPM; those 30 to 39, 129 to 148 BPM (3).
  • It so important to monitor your heart rate and not have it exceed 150 Bpm while doing physical activities, per my doctors order, but personally I  never went above 142 Bpm.
  • Incorporate ≥30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week.
  • The frequency and duration of the exercise should be tailored to the woman’s needs and level of fitness. (Try to do multiple body parts a session so if you miss a day in the gym you wont feel as bad, for example: shoulders and quads, compound movements i.e. squat press)
  • Increase frequency and intensity very gradually if inactive prior to pregnancy.
  • Avoid exercising in the supine position after the first trimester.
  • Drink liquids before, during and after exercise to ensure adequate hydration.
  • Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes with light exercise and stretch your muscles. At the end of your exercise, cool down for 5 to 10 minutes, including stretching.
  • An increase in maternal body temperature can harm the fetus. This means that exercise should be moderate, and saunas, hot tubs and steam baths should be avoided. Clothing that “breathes” will help keep body temperature down.
  • Get creative! You do not need a gym to workout, there are tons of at home workouts you can try!

Need a little motivation or ideas on great pregnancy workouts?!?


I highly recommend following my good friend Nathalia Melo-Wilson (pictured to the right). She posts daily her workouts, at at the moment she is pregnant wit her second baby! Not only is she a great role model but a genuinely sweet person who knows how to train while pregnant and how to get back your pre baby body. Stay tuned to her new e-book coming out shortly. In the meantime you can check out more from her by visiting or following her on Instagram @Nathaliamelofit. She is the definition of #FitMOM


Yes you can exercise during pregnancy, just make sure you are listening to your body and making smart choices. Purchasing a heart rate monitor is a good idea to know you’re not overdoing it. If something hurts, don’t do it. It s sounds pretty simple but for most people who workout, sometimes we fall into “no pain, no gain” mentality and that doesn’t hold true while pregnant. To be honest not much changed for me in the gym, except the position I put my body in during certain trimesters. I had to get more creative in some regards because my belly and the machine or workout I wanted to do didn’t quite fit. All in all exercising is a safe and healthy way to welcome a new baby in this world. I credit my activity level to my ability to bounce back after my C-Section.

Train hard & #beNaturAli


1.) Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Committee Opinion No. 650. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2015;126:e135–42.

2.) Wang SM, Dezinno P, Maranets I, Berman MR, Caldwell-Andrews AA, Kain ZN. Low back pain during pregnancy: prevalence, risk factors, and outcomes. Obstet Gynecol. 2004;104(1):65–70. [PubMed] [Obstetrics & Gynecology]

3.)Smith, C. Max Heart Rate While June 24,2015.

BOX 3 Graphic sourced from

Photo Credit of Nathalia Melo: Amie McAllister Photography

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