Exercise during pregnancy is encouraged, but is there such a thing as “too much” exercise?
When pregnant model Sarah Stage made international headlines because she was super pregnant and super skinny, the judgment briskly rained down on her from those who felt that she was possibly damaging her baby so she could remain thin. Does this mean that exercise during pregnancy is a huge no-no? Definitely not. In fact, it’s usually recommended.
Getting the go-ahead from your health care provider is the best first step. Usually if you’ve already been participating in a regular exercise program, you will be allowed to continue, and if you want to get started, you’ll get advice from your provider for the best way to begin.
Dr. Daniel Roshan, board-certified maternal fetal medicine specialist and high-risk obstetrics in Manhattan, New York, agrees. “In general, if there is no contraindication and everything is going normally, pregnant patients are encouraged to do light exercises such as walking, jogging, spinning, swimming, etc.,” he tells SheKnows. “They should not do it to exhaustion, and if they are not trained, the pulse should not go beyond 150 and temperature should not go above 38 degrees C (100.4 degrees F).”
There are certain medical conditions that aren’t compatible with both pregnancy and exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can include some heart and lung disease, vaginal bleeding, cervical problems or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.
If you’re approved to work out, you should pace yourself and listen carefully to your body — generally, if you can speak while exercising, you’re A-OK. If you’re out of breath, you’re pushing yourself too hard. Other warning signs to watch for are contractions that don’t let up after you’re done, fluid or blood leaking from your vagina, uneven heartbeat, increasing shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness or headache. Your provider may have even more suggestions for what you should watch out for.
Even though it’s quite easy to judge this pregnant model, she has shared that her workout regimen has been approved by her doctor and that she has gained around 20 pounds so far, which is well within the recommended amount. “Usually if one starts with ideal body weight, she should gain 10 pounds until 28 weeks, and another 15 pounds until full term,” explains Dr. Roshan.
Can you exercise too much? Yes. But can you assume that a woman who remains “thin” and physically fit until the end of her pregnancy is working out too hard and putting herself and her baby in danger? No. Every pregnancy is different, and every woman carries her baby in her own way.