What Exercises Are Actually Safe During Pregnancy?
Isn’t it funny how when you’re pregnant, everyone’s suddenly an expert? “Sign your kid up for a good school now.” “You should never eat cheese.” “You can’t run when you’re pregnant!” Yup, people love to dish out advice, and that leads to a lot of conflicting information and outright myths.
To keep you moving safely and with confidence during your pregnancy, I’ve rounded up the most common pregnancy fitness myths that need busting – now!
Myth #1: You shouldn’t exercise at all
Pregnancy is not an illness. For most women, continuing to exercise is completely safe.
The pregnancy programs in my app, Emily Skye FIT, follow recommendations laid out by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RANZCOG), who recommend that pregnant women do 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
Not only is it safe to exercise during pregnancy, doing so has so many benefits for you and your baby. These include helping you get better sleep, keeping you strong for labor, and preventing hypertension.
Myth #2: You can’t lift weights
When it comes to women lifting weights in general, wow, people have opinions. Add pregnancy to the mix and it can get even more heated – I received many comments and DMs during both my pregnancies from people who were shocked that I was still lifting weights while pregnant and told me it was dangerous.
But you know what? As an experienced lifter and qualified personal trainer who worked with women’s health experts to develop my FIT Pregnancy program, I knew that strength training within my limits was actually a good thing. And in fact, strength training is a recommended part of the ideal 150-300 minutes of exercise per week.
Myth #3: Don’t start exercising now
This one can be a little confusing because there are some forms of exercise that you shouldn’t attempt for the first time during pregnancy. For instance, if you haven’t regularly lifted weights in the past, now is not the time to grab the dumbbells.
However, if your pregnancy (or perhaps even the process of getting pregnant) has made you question your inactivity and overall health, you shouldn’t be afraid to begin introducing regular, moderate exercise to your life.
If you’re currently inactive but want to start moving during pregnancy, RANZCOG recommends starting with 15 to 20 minutes of light exercise at a time, and slowly building up to 30 minutes per session.
If you are inactive, I don’t recommend starting with FIT Pregnancy, as this program is designed for already active women to maintain fitness and strength. You might want to try brisk walking, riding an exercise bike or swimming. Just remember to warm up and cool down, and stop if anything doesn’t feel right.
Myth #4: You shouldn’t raise your heart rate
Love to run? You don’t have to stop! Back in the olden days, the advice given to pregnant women was to not raise your heart rate above 140 bpm – but that is no longer the case. These days, the experts now point to the Borg Rate of Perceived Exertion and suggest you reach a 12-14 on the scale when exercising – that means your breathing is at the point where you can still talk to someone, but you’re too out of puff to sing.
Before you start any exercise, familiarize yourself with the warning signs you should stop exercising when pregnant.
Good nutrition is never more important than when you’re pregnant. What you eat doesn’t just support the development of your baby, it fuels your increasing energy needs, too. But while you’re upping your calories to keep up with your growing bub, you also need to make sure that the foods you consume are nutrient-dense, well-prepared and safe for the both of you.
Try my Honey Lime Salmon dish for a healthy and tasty dinner option from the FIT Pregnancy meal plan.
Important: Always consult your healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise program, as there are some situations where exercise may not be advised. This information should be used as a guide only and should not replace the advice of your medical practitioner.
Learn More About Fitness
Emily Skye is a mother of two, strength training expert and the face of FIT, the digital fitness app that helps women worldwide build strength and confidence, stay active through pregnancy and rebuild post-pregnancy. Emily holds a Certificate IV in Fitness and Master Trainer qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness.