Physical activity is necessary for everyone of all age groups, including pregnant women. If you have a normal pregnancy and are healthy, generally it is safe to continue or start to be involved in physical activities. However, before you begin to exercise, you can always talk to your doctor during the early prenatal visit to get advice on which types of activities or exercises are suitable based on your health condition.1. How much exercises do pregnant women need?
A healthy pregnant woman should be having at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activities per week. During moderate-intensity activities such as brisk walking, you should be able to hold a conversation but not sing. If you experience breathlessness while talking, the exercise intensity may be too vigorous for you. And nope, you don’t have to complete 150 minutes of workouts at once, you can always break down the total of 150 minutes of exercises into 5 days workout of 30 minutes each day. On the other hand, you can even divide them into 3 parts of 10 minutes brisk walking sessions each day. See? That’s easy, right? If you are new to exercise, start gradually even from 5 minutes per day, and increasing every week can also make a difference to your body.
2. Benefits of being healthy during pregnancy
- Improves overall physical and mental health
- May also reduce the complications from gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and postpartum depression
- Reduces back pain
- Aid in healthy weight gain throughout pregnancy
3. Safe activities for pregnant women
Activities that are basically considered safe throughout the pregnancy, including for beginners, are:
- Swimming or aquarobics – full-body workout which also helps to support the weight of the pregnant women
- Walk – Brisk walking is considered a total body workout that doesn’t pressure much on your muscles and joints
- Stationary cycling – avoid the risk of falling off
- Yoga or Pilates – Modifies yoga or Pilates designed for pregnant women which helps to reduce stress and improves flexibility
4. What kind of activities are considered unsafe for pregnant women?
During pregnancy, avoid all these activities that might cause injury or unwanted circumstances:
- Activities that involve lying on the back, especially after the first trimester, as it may affect the blood flow to the baby
- Sports that may inflict hit on the belly such as boxing and basketball
- Activities with risk of falling: riding on a horse, downhill skiing
- Exercise at high altitude (more than 6,000 feet) which can reduce the oxygen amount to reach the baby
- Scuba diving can cause dangerous gas bubbles to form in the baby’s body
5. Some basic exercise guidelines/tips
- Wear loose clothing
- Warm up before exercise, and cool down after exercising
- Drink enough water before, during, and after exercises
- Finish eating at least 1 hour before exercise
- Exercise on flat surfaces
- No strenuous exercise in hot weather
- Rest, when necessary, do not over push yourself
- Stop and call your obstetrician if you experience signs such as shortness of breath before starting exercise, vaginal bleeding or painful contractions from the uterus
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021. Healthy Pregnant and Postpartum Women. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pregnancy/index.html [Accessed 23 February 2022].
- WebMD. 2020. Exercise During Pregnancy. [online] Available at: https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/exercise-during-pregnancy [Accessed 23 February 2022].
- Acog.org. 2019. Exercise During Pregnancy. [online] Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-during-pregnancy [Accessed 23 February 2022].