No Sweat, No Good in Pregnancy

Vigorous exercise crucial while pregnant

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Old wives tales regarding pregnancy are plentiful, such as carrying the baby high means it's a girl and exercise during pregnancy will hurt the fetus. The one about exercise hurting the baby can be laid to rest.

Vigorous exercise offers the best chance to remain healthy during pregnancy and provides a healthy environment for the baby. A cardio workout and light weight lifting decreases the risk for disease and can prevent excess weight gain.

"Exercise during pregnancy can improve your health."

Research shows that intense exercise, meaning getting the heart rate up to 60 percent of its maximum capacity, can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Gradually increasing one's physical activity is shown to be safe for both the mom and baby, according to revised workout guidelines for expecting moms.

Also, a regular exercise program helps eliminate excess weight gain during pregnancy and all the obesity-related problems that excessive weight gain can cause.

There are exceptions to the rule about exercise and pregnancy. Women with these health issues should not exercise when expecting:

  • Hemodynamically significant heart disease
  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Incompetent cervix/cerclage
  • Multiple gestation at risk for premature labor
  • Persistent second or third trimester bleeding
  • Placenta previa after 26-weeks gestation
  • Premature labor during the current pregnancy
  • Ruptured membranes
  • Preeclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension

Women with the following health issues should ask their doctor if they can exercise while pregnant:

  • Severe anemia
  • Unelevated maternal cardiac arrhythmia
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Poorly controlled type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • Morbid obesity
  • Extremely underweight (body mass index less than 12)
  • History of extremely sedentary lifestyle
  • Intrauterine growth restriction in current pregnancy
  • Poorly controlled hypertension
  • Orthopedic limitations
  • Poorly controlled seizure disorder
  • Poorly controlled hyperthyroidism
  • Heavy smoker
  • Warning signs to terminate exercise while pregnant
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dyspnea prior to exertion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling (need to rule out thrombophlebitis)
  • Preterm labor
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Amniotic fluid leakage
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 29, 2011
Last Updated:
December 12, 2014