The safest pregnancy exercises to do
Pregnancy is a super exciting time for women – you’re growing a tiny human inside of you! As miraculous as this time is, it can also be pretty daunting, especially when it comes to exercise. We speak to Eryn Ford, founder of Mummy Physiques, to find out which exercises are safe to perform both during and after pregnancy and which (if any) are unsafe.
Q: Can women maintain their regular exercise regimen while pregnant?
Totally! Obviously it's not the time to start up a Crossfit membership or something intense like that. However, if you have always been active and have had no complications then it’s fine to keep up your aerobic and strength training, with modifications when needed.
If you weren't fit before you became pregnant, don't give up! Begin slowly and build gradually as you become stronger. Always check in with your doctor or midwife before getting started, run through your program with them and get their approval.
Q: Which forms of exercise (if any) are unsafe to perform while pregnant?
Avoid contact sports at all costs. Also avoid activities that might throw you off balance, such as horseback riding, downhill skiing, or mountain biking. Regular cycling early in your pregnancy is okay if you're comfortable on a bike, but it's probably best to stick to stationary or recumbent bikes later in pregnancy.
Just remember, [when pregnant, you’re not as] stable on your feet [as you once were] so it's very easy to lose your step. Your increased levels of the hormone relaxin (which relaxes pelvic joints in preparation for childbirth) loosens [your] ligaments and joints [which] makes you more susceptible to sprains and injury from falls.
Q: Are there circumstances in which a pregnant woman should abstain from exercise altogether?
- Heart disease that significantly affects the way blood circulates in your body, such as pulmonary hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure)
- Lung disease, such as severe asthma or chronic bronchitis
- Cervical insufficiency/cerclage (premature dilation)
- Multiple pregnancy (twins or triplets, for example) if you're at risk for preterm labour
- Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks
- Preterm labor
- Ruptured membranes (your water has broken)
- Preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure)
You may still be able to do limited movements, such as exercises to strengthen your arms and back. [But just] be sure to ask your doctor or midwife before going ahead with any type of exercise.
Q: Which forms of exercise are best while pregnant?
Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you exercise with caution and do not overdo it. Your body will know its limits. The ideal exercise in pregnancy will get your heart pumping and keep you flexible, without causing physical stress. Most importantly, do what you enjoy and [what] you feel comfortable doing.
Q: When it comes to losing your baby weight post-pregnancy, what are the three most common mistakes women make?
1. Putting too much pressure on yourself and comparing yourself to others. Your body has gone through nine months of intense change, go easy on yourself.
2. Thinking a quick fix fad diet is the key. This is not the case! Eating healthy nutritional meals, preferably clean foods and minimal sugar, with a strength and conditioning exercise program will be best for you and your family in the long run.
3. Not getting enough sleep. Sleep and weight gain are linked. Take every opportunity to sleep. You'll feel better, and it helps you lose weight.
Q: What exercises do you most recommend for losing baby weight?
Compound movements, which are weight training exercises that use more than one muscle group at a time. Think squats, kettlebell swings, lunges, pull ups and push presses! There are many benefits to these exercises, including:
- Burns more calories
- Faster workouts
- Improves coordination and balance
- Targets joint stability and core muscles
- Gets your heart to pump more blood which is good for cardiovascular fitness
Q: Which forms of exercise (if any) are unsafe to perform post-pregnancy?
As long as you have given your body some rest and your doctor or midwife has given you the okay to get back into exercise, I don't believe there are any exercises that you can't do. You know your body best, [so] do what feels right and what you enjoy.
Did you continue to exercise while pregnant? How did you feel about exercise after having your baby?