How to choose a fitness plan during pregnancy?

The first step is to get clearance from your doctor to ensure that there are not any underlying medical conditions which could make certain workouts unsafe. When choosing a plan, it is important to make sure that the workouts follows all ACOG guidelines for pregnancy and that the instructors have experience working with prenatal clients. The plan should provide various modifications to the exercises so that as your pregnancy progresses you can adapt your workout accordingly. Finally, the plan should not involve any risky moves or activities that could lead to falls or injury.

Keep these points in mind when choosing a fitness plan:

Avoid activities in which you can get hit in the abdomen like kickboxing, soccer, basketball, or ice hockey.Steer clear of activities in which you can fall like horseback riding, downhill skiing, and gymnastics.Do not scuba dive during pregnancy. Scuba diving can create gas bubbles in your baby's blood that can cause many health problems.

This answer is based on source information from The U.S Department of Human Services Office on Womens Health.  

As long as your doctor does not give you any exercise restrictions, then participating in a fitness plan during pregnancy is highly recommended and can be beneficial to both the mother and fetus. When choosing a fitness plan it is important to follow a few simple guidelines. First, if you already exercised prior to becoming pregnant, you may continue with moderate levels of activity throughout your pregnancy. If you did not exercise prior to becoming pregnant, you can still begin a new fitness program (a walking program is often recommended) and progressively increase your speed and time. Other activities that may be enjoyable during pregnancy include resistance training, swimming, stationary cycling, yoga and group fitness classes.  Many gyms and studios now offer prenatal exercise classes, which are taught by certified trainers.

As your pregnancy progresses into the second and third trimester, slight adjustments to your activities will need to be made. It is important not to perform exercises on your stomach or back. You may also have to alter your cardio program in your third trimester as work capacity is often demised.

The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends pregnant women can exercise 3-5 times per week. Strength training programs can be implemented 2-3 days per week using light loads of 12-15 repetitions. Be sure to keep your heart rate to 140 beats per minute or less for beginners, and 160 beats per minute or less for advanced exercisers.

There are trainers certified in prenatal exercise. I myself am certified by NASM in prenatal training. It is a good idea to meet with a trainer at least once to know how to change your fitness routine each trimester. There are certain exercise positions that are not good for the fetus that you should know about. Laying on your back, stomach, or foam rolling your varicose veins in the lower legs are all dangerous to the fetus's blood supply. Feel free to reach out to me with any other questions.
I am, as well, certified and qualified to work with pre and post natal individuals. Good programming, understanding what your body is going through, and knowing what to avoid are key. For the most part, it comes down to developing really good retraction in the shoulders, a high degree of core strength in all 3 planes of motion, corrective flexibility to prevent low back pain, and attention to temperature, body position, and heart rate. There are some other considerations, but those stand out as the most important. Let's work together to keep you fit for baby and beyond!

Exercising during pregnancy is a healthy practice for you and your baby. The first step is to have your physician clear you for exercise. Second, avoid any activity that would include any impact to your abdominal area or restrict blood flow to your cardiovascular system. Third, once you are clear to exercise it would be wise to consult a fitness professional that is trained in pre and post-pregnancy exercise programming.


Exercise during pregnancy is much like general fitness. Your program should include flexibility training, strength training to promote a healthy body composition, and cardiovascular training within an appropriate heart rate zone. The key to training while pregnant is to focus on posture, balance, and proper exercise technique. Your focus should be to improve your fitness while training your body to adapt to the increase in body weight, change in your center of balance, and alterations in your nutritional demands, and energy levels. With this, exercising before, during and after pregnancy will decrease gains in body fat, and help to reduce the amount of “baby weight” your body holds on to after delivery.

The exercise program may choose you, instead of you choosing it. Over the years, I have been an advisor to, or personally trained dozens of mothers-to-be. While it can be tough to tone down the intensity of the workouts, it is necessary to stay within strict exercise guidelines for the health of both the mother and baby.

If you were not an exerciser prior to becoming pregnant, then it is best to start smart and start small. Small workouts consisting of walking and very light resistance training for just 5 minutes a day will yield positive health benefits. As you become more proficient with your exercise routine you can add 5 minutes till you reach 30 minutes of walking and light resistance training 3-5 days per week.

Whether you are an experienced exerciser prior to becoming pregnant or not, ALWAYS consult your physician before starting or continuing exercise during pregnancy. ALWAYS be certain it is safe for you and your child.

If your doctor clears you for exercise then following guidelines from the National Academy of Sports Medicine will help you create a safe, effective exercise program during your pregnancy. Make sure your heart rate stays beneath 140 beats per minute (BPM). Perhaps investing in a heart rate monitor would be a good idea if you are not sure you can measure your own pulse. A simple way to make sure your exercise intensity is appropriate is to engage in a conversation without losing your breathe. As for exercises, 3-5 days per week, with 2-3 of those days including appropriate levels of resistance training (1-3 sets with 12-15 repetitions in each set). As for cardio, make sure it is low impact like walking and keeps your heart rate beneath 140 BPM.

Some cautions: stay adequately hydrated, avoid standing for long periods of time, try to do resistance training seated.  Stop exercising if you become dizzy or feeling faint, experience a headache or see swelling in your face, ankles and hands.


Mark Levine

It is important to listen to your Doctor and your body when choosing a fitness plan during your pregnancy. Another important factor is whether you have exercised before you were pregnant. If you have exercised in the past and your Doctor doesn't put any restrictions on you, then you can continue your existing workout less the abdominal workout.

Also, I would recommend dropping the intensity of your workout. For example, if you're used to running on a treadmill at 7.5 to 8MPH, I would recommend you slow the pace down so your heart rate doesn't become extremely elevated.

The most important thing to remember is to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise or fitness program as every pregnancy and every person is different. I have had clients that have maintained their running programs running over 10 miles a day, and i've had clients that could only partake in light strength training, and modified Yoga clases.
With that being said The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends pregnant women can exercise
3-5 times per week depending on your level of fitness.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.