We are honored to share this post written by Dr. Cara Hartle of Virginia Physicians for Women.
Multiple times throughout my week I am asked,
Is it safe to exercise during my pregnancy?
And the answer is typically,
There are very few contraindications to exercise in pregnancy, and especially in early pregnancy. Even prior to your first OB visit, if you are entering your pregnancy in a healthy state, you can continue your normal exercise routine.
As a matter of fact, I encourage it!
The old-school recommendation for exercise in pregnancy was that if you exercised prior to your pregnancy, then you could continue that activity because your body was accustomed to it. The most recent recommendation by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology is that “physical activity in pregnancy has minimal risks and has been shown to benefit most women.”
The goal is to develop an exercise program that leads to moderate intensity exercise at least 20-30 minutes a day on all or most days of the week. Even for my patients who have never exercised or do not routinely engage in exercise, I will recommend that they start with 30 minutes a day for three days a week and then work their way up from there.
Some examples of moderate intensity exercise would be brisk walking, jogging, swimming, aerobics, or strength training. Many other forms of exercise can be modified to fit your pregnancy. You should be able to comfortably engage in a conversation with the person next to you and will need to remember to focus on hydration before, during, and after your exercise.
The activities that should be avoided are contact sports, activities that have a high risk of falling, and exercise that would raise your core body temperature such as Hot Yoga or Pilates.
Exercising during your pregnancy offers so many benefits.
Not only does it improve your overall sense of well-being, but also, it helps to prevent excessive weight gain, decreases your chances of developing gestational diabetes or hypertension, and it decreases your postpartum recovery time. And honestly, who doesn’t feel better after a good sweat?
During my pregnancy, I felt like my time exercising was the time that I took to just focus on my body and my baby. Not only did it give me some “alone time” to stay centered, but it also gave me the opportunity to connect with other moms and soon-to-be moms in the area.
Many of the local studios, community centers, and even the hospital that you plan to deliver at in Richmond offer prenatal fitness classes. And if the classes are not specifically “prenatal”, many instructors are able to guide you in how to modify the exercise during your pregnancy in order to make it safe and effective.
The best part of exercising during your pregnancy? It makes you feel good, and the smiles of approval and words of encouragement are endless.
Stay strong mamas!
Dr. Cara Golish Hartle, D.O., F.A.C.O.G grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh. She is now excited to be living closer to family in Richmond with her son and husband, also a medical provider specializing in Nephrology. Dr. Hartle has extensive experience with operative deliveries and robotic procedures. An avid runner and marathoner, she is interested in global health and completed medical work in Ecuador, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Ghana.