Exercise During Pregnancy

There is a benefit from mild to moderate exercise during pregnancy, at least 30 minutes per session, at least 3 times per week. For cardiovascular exercise target heart rates goals are between 60% and 80% of an individual’s maximum heart rate. The maximum rate can be determined using the formula 220 minus your age. If you are 40, your maximum would be 180 and your target heart rate would be between 108 and 144. Untrained women should aim for the lower end of this range, whereas fit women can aim for the high end.

Many experts feel that swimming is the ideal exercise while pregnant. People stay cool, and the buoyancy effect can be a real relief in and of itself. Late in pregnancy, swimming on the back may allow for easier breathing (the opposite advice compared to lying on the back!).

Yoga and Pilates

Prenatal Yoga can be very beneficial. It can help with back pain, flexibility, strengthening and relaxation. We like the prenatal classes at Yoga House, 11 W. State St., Pasadena, CA, 91105, 626-403-3961.

Many women ask about Pilates and Yoga during pregnancy. A wonderful DVD (by one of our very own patients!) is available, called “Pregnancy System” by Tracey Mallett. It covers Yoga, Sculpting, Pilates, Upper and Lower Body and Core Conditioning. Please see their web site: www.atptraining.com or call (626) 403-6545.


Any exercise during pregnancy should not be done to such an intense degree as to cause discomfort, shortness of breath or profuse sweating. The ability to speak in a normal manner without being short of breath is a desirable endpoint for exercise intensity.

Exercise should be directed at fitness, not training or competition.

Precautions while exercising

  • Avoid supine exercise after the first trimester, particularly resistance exercises such as bench press. 
  • Loss of balance can be a concern, particularly in the third trimester, so step aerobics may not be the best type of exercise at this time. 
  • Adequate hydration before, during and afterwards is important. Loose-fitting clothing appropriate to the environment can help prevent overheating.