Exercise: Important for a Healthy Pregnancy

by Dr. Jeffrey Osburn, OB/GYN, Prescott Women’s Clinic

Pregnancy is an exciting and life changing event in a woman’s life. It often involves stopping bad habits in favor of healthy ones for the benefit of the baby. Many times this involves healthier eating and getting more sleep. 

However, exercise in pregnancy is often overlooked or viewed as not recommended. Exercise should be looked at as an integral part of having a healthy pregnancy for both mother and baby. 

Exercise in pregnancy is safe and desirable. Women who exercise regularly in pregnancy have shown to have higher incidence of vaginal deliveries, decreased incidence of excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders. They also have less preterm birth and less incidence of low birth weight babies.  Furthermore, they have quick recoveries and less overall weight gain. 

The World Health Organization and American College of Sports Medicine have evidence-based policy statements with regard to the beneficial effects of exercise for adults. In 2018, the United States Health Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans supported this policy with a recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week during pregnancy and the postpartum period. 

Women who habitually engage in such activities before pregnancy are encouraged to continue.  Women not involved in such activities were encouraged to consult with their health care provider/obstetric provider prior to starting such activity. 

Physical inactivity and obesity have significant health affects in our society, particularly in pregnancy. 

There are limited medical situations in which exercise in pregnancy is not encouraged. Pregnant women should review with their obstetrical provider any concerns as most exercise regiments can be individualized.

Exercise in pregnancy and the postpartum period is a healthy choice that benefits mother, baby and the family.