Exercise During Pregnancy: Good or Bad?

This a question I hear a lot working a women’s health physical therapist. The quick and easy answer is, GOOD! Women who are pregnant are encouraged to participate in 30-60 minutes of light to moderate exercise per day 5-7 days per week. However, according to an article from the Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association, only 1 of 6 pregnant women in the US and northern Europe follow these recommendations. This study also finds that the majority of women make modifications to their exercise routine in the way of duration, frequency, and intensity.

This study proved that exercise during pregnancy is associated many positive factors including reduced back pain, improved sleep, increased self-confidence and sense of body control, and improved health perception. Some women reported other benefits including easier labor experience, control of weight gain, overall feeling of health, social support, and creating a daily routine of exercise and diet. 

Aquatic exercise is of the most benefit to pregnant women. Here at Boston Sports Medicine we have smaller individual sized pools that have treadmills on the bottom. Many clients that I have worked with really enjoyed running on the treadmill and exercising with the resistance bands and dumbbells. The benefit of aquatic therapy is the decreased loading on the joints of the body, especially the spine. The buoyancy of the water creates an unloading effect that makes it possible to move and strengthen in an easier manner. Depending on the height of the individual the water supports 50-80% of body weight.

Exercise during pregnancy allows the woman to see immediate and short term benefits. Some women reported relief of somatic issues including nausea, headache, and fatigue. It was also reported that the women who did not exercise on a daily basis felt restless or uncomfortable, gained more weight, and experienced more back pain. Physical therapists can help women going through pregnancy to perform safe and healthy exercises while preventing injury.

If you are pregnant and have questions about exercising call a physical therapist in your area. Both land based and aquatic exercise are beneficial. If you have any health conditions or restrictions call your doctor before scheduling an appointment with physical therapy.

Jennifer Doyle