Physical Activity and Pregnancy
Physical activity is important during pregnancy. Regular activity at a mild-moderate level can benefit the expectant mother in a number of ways:
- Increases energy levels
- Improves mood, sleep and ability to cope with stress
- Improves posture and can relieve back pain
- Helps to prevent discomforts or complications in pregnancy such as constipation, varicose veins, high blood pressure and gestational diabetes
- Helps to maintain a healthy weight gain during pregnancy
- Increases overall fitness, strength and flexibility
- Improves ability to cope with labour and delivery
Pregnancy and Physical Activity Help Videos
Use the following videos to help stay physically active during your pregnancy without hurting the baby:
- Avoiding Back Pain During Pregnancy
- Abdominal Exercises During Pregnancy
- Flexibility and Joint Issues During Pregnancy
- How To Find Your Target Heart Rate
- Strength Training During Pregnancy
It is recommended that pregnant women participate in aerobic activities three to four times per week for 15 to 30 minutes. Remember to include a warm-up and cool-down stretches when exercising.
Aerobic activities to participate in: walking, prenatal yoga, aquafit, low-impact aerobics, swimming, cycling on a stationary bike and prenatal exercise classes.
To know how challenging your exercise routine should be, follow the "Talk Test": Are you too short of breath to carry on a conversation? If so, slow down.
Safety Guidelines for Physical Activity During Pregnancy
- Talk to your Health Care Provider before beginning or changing your physical activity program. Have your health care provider complete PARmed-X for Pregnancy.
- Begin slowly. Start with aerobic activity three times per week for 15 minutes.
- Avoid activities which require sudden starts or stops, jumping, or rapid changes in direction.
- Always stretch before and after your activity.
- Drink water before, during, and after your activity.
- Avoid exercising in hot, humid weather or when you are ill and have a fever. Avoid hot tubs or whirlpools.
- Avoid exercises which require you to lie on your back after four months of pregnancy. Instead, perform the exercises while lying on your side.
For more information about physical activity during pregnancy, contact:
- Your Health Care Provider
- Motherisk Exercise in Pregnancy Helpline at 1-866-937-7678 or care of
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Ave.
Toronto, ON M5G1X8