Exercise during pregnancy offers various health benefits for pregnant women and their fetuses.
Exercise has been shown to prevent excessive gestational weight gain, and decrease the risk of
gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, caesarean delivery, low back pain, pelvic girdle pain, and
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, physical exercise does
not pose significant risks for both women with uncomplicated pregnancies and women with risk
factors such as obesity, gestational diabetes, and chronic hypertension. Pregnant women are
recommended to engage in aerobic and strengthening exercises during and after their
pregnancy. Previously sedentary women should gradually increase their exercise over time. The
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada recommends beginning exercise
programs with 15 minutes of continuous exercise 3 times a week, increasing gradually to 30
minute sessions 4 times per week.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Exercise Recommendations:
Pregnant women are recommended to participate in low impact aerobic exercises such as
walking, aerobic dancing, stationary cycling, light jogging, and swimming 3-5 days per week.
Aerobic exercises sessions should be 20-30 minutes long and completed at a moderate
intensity (RPE 13-14, <80% HRmax). Pregnant women should avoid engaging in high intensity
exercises (>90% HRmax), long distance running, and exercises with risks of falling and body
Pregnant women are recommended to participate in strengthening exercises 3-5 days per week
for 15-20 minutes. These strengthening exercises can incorporate the use of resistance bands,
dumbbells, and body weight. Pregnant women should avoid isometric exercises, the valsalva
maneuver, frequent heavy lifting, and hot yoga. To prevent the risk of decreased blood flow to
the fetus, exercises completed lying down should be avoided from the second trimester to
Pelvic Floor Muscle Training Exercise (Kegels):
Pregnant women should engage in pelvic floor muscle training 3-5 days per week. Kegel
exercises sessions should be 10-15 minutes long and consist of 100 repetitions.
Pregnant women should receive a medical evaluation to ensure that safety of engaging in
exercise during pregnancy. Health care providers should tailor the exercise programs to the
pregnant woman’s pre-pregnancy fitness levels and pregnancy complications. Pregnant women
should discontinue exercise if they experience vaginal bleeding, consistent or painful
contractions, amniotic fluid leakage, excessive fatigue or shortness of breath, chest pain,
dizziness, or muscle weakness affecting balance.
PainPro kinesiologists have experience working with pregnant women and can work one-on-one
with clients to create tailored and safe exercise programs. Prior to engaging in an exercise
program, it is advised that pregnant women receive medical clearance from their health care
professionals or obstetrician to determine if there are any contraindicating positions,
movements, or exercises.
Perales, M., Artal, R., & Lucia, A. (2017). Exercise during pregnancy. Jama, 317(11), 1113-
Gregg, V. H., & Ferguson, 2., James E. (2017). Exercise in pregnancy. Clinics in Sports
Medicine, 36(4), 741-752. doi:10.1016/j.csm.2017.05.005