How To Work Out When You’re Pregnant

Strength training and aerobic exercise are safe—and good for both you and the baby.

Pregnancy is a fine time to exercise, from the first months through the last. That’s true whether you’ve been a regular exerciser or not. “Often, women who haven’t been exercising regularly find that pregnancy is a great time to start healthy new habits because they’re so excited about the pregnancy,” says Angela Wimmer, MD, an OB/GYN at Saint Barnabas Medical Center.

The benefits of exercising while pregnant are many, including decreased risk for high blood pressure, postpartum depression, gestational diabetes mellitus and cesarean section. “Exercise also helps manage weight and reduces the aches and pains of pregnancy, especially in the lower back,” says Dr. Wimmer. “A woman’s body is changing so rapidly during pregnancy. It’s super important to stretch those muscles and joints as they are sustaining extra weight.”

Before beginning an exercise program, talk with your OB/GYN to be sure you have no conditions or complications that would restrict the kind of exercise you can do. Then, a physical therapist can work with you to develop a safe and effective program of exercise. When you’re exercising, wear loose clothes, stay hydrated and avoid high heat, advises Dr. Wimmer. “Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week,” she says. “That includes dancing, swimming and anything else you like to do. Walking is also great!”

Aerobic Exercise Is Important, Too

Perform low-impact aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging or using equipment like an elliptical or stationary bike for 20 to 45 minutes, three to six days per week. Choose an exercise that you will be able to continue throughout your entire pregnancy.

A good way to monitor your intensity is the “talk test.” If you are able to maintain a conversation, then you are exercising at an appropriate intensity. If you are too out of breath to talk, dial back your intensity by decreasing your speed, incline or resistance.

For more information about maternity services at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, visit www.rwjbh.org/sbmcmaternity.

Baby, Let’s Move!

Here, Kate Bellucci, PT, DPT, MSCS, a physical therapist at the Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Center at the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center, works with patient Andrea Miller on exercises to strengthen the upper body and core. Please note: The following exercises are recommended for an uncomplicated pregnancy. Talk to your OB/GYN before beginning an exercise program and for any new symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, shortness of breath without exertion, dizziness, headaches, chest pain or new swelling.