Exercise in Pregnancy...banishing the myths!

So you have discovered that you are pregnant…you feel excited, apprehensive and a little scared?

These are all extremely normal emotions which you will slowly begin to get your head around over the coming weeks and months ahead. But what about the more immediate questions that you may have concerning your lifestyle? Have you been exercising and now suddenly don’t know what to do? Have you been told that you now need to take things easier for the sake of your baby? Many women face these questions with uncertainty.

Pregnancy yoga and pilates classes are becoming more and more popular for women to take throughout pregnancy.  But when it comes to exercise such as running and weight training, many ladies are concerned that these types of exercise may damage themselves or their growing baby.

Here are a few common myths about exercising during pregnancy!

Myth 1 – Raising your heart rate with exercise during pregnancy is dangerous to your foetus

A ‘safe heart rate’ very much depends upon the fitness levels of the individual pre-pregnancy and whether or not someone is used to doing cardiovascular exercise. Women are advised to base their level of intensity of exercise upon whether or not they can hold a light conversation during exercise without being too out of breath to do so.

What is considered more important than heart rate, is making sure that your core temperature does not get too high. This is easy to manage by wearing layers that you can take off if you get too warm, drinking plenty of water before, during and after exercise, and not exercising in the heat of the sun.

Myth 2 – Running and impact work must stop when you’re pregnant

There is no evidence to suggest that running or impact work is dangerous whilst pregnant. That said, pregnancy is not the time to decide to take up running if you haven’t been doing this kind of activity regularly pre-pregnancy, nor is it the time to be stepping up the running intensity or mileage.

If you have been running regularly before you became pregnant and you have no medical problems or pain, then it is absolutely safe to continue doing so for as long as you feel you are comfortable.

Myth 3 – Weight / resistance training during pregnancy can strain your joints and cause injury

Again, whilst pregnancy is not the time to be lifting heavy weights for the first time, using weights or resistance equipment can be hugely beneficial to your body whilst pregnant. Resistance training with our posture in a safe and neutral position can be fantastic for maintaining strength and joint stability during your pregnancy.

Myth 4 – Abdominal work must be avoided during pregnancy

It is actually extremely important that the abdominals are well-conditioned in order to cope with the demands of pregnancy and labour. Weakened abdominals and core muscles can cause issues with incontinence, back and pelvic pain, and reduce your efficiency of pushing during labour.

Maintaining a strong core ante-natally, will reduce your risk of developing aches and pains and stress incontinence, and will also help to support both your spine and your bump as you start to get bigger.

Sit-ups and abdominal crunches are however contra-indicated beyond the time when your bump is starting to show. Ideally, abdominal work during pregnancy should involve core and pelvic floor strengthening, which is why pilates is such a popular choice of exercise for many pregnant women.

Myth 5 - If you did not exercise before pregnancy, now is not the time to start

Pregnancy is definitely not the time to take up a new sport such as running or kickboxing, however exercise throughout pregnancy is very much recommended so it is therefore a good time to start a gentle regime of activities such as walking, pilates and yoga if you are completely new to exercise.

Exercising is both safe and recommended throughout your pregnancy. There are many ways you can do this and numerous classes around nowadays that will guide you through what to do with your changing shape, and it’s also a great way to meet ladies who are in a similar position to you!

Do listen to your body though, it is going to go through many changes over the coming months and your energy levels, posture and joint stability will certainly be challenged, so do pay attention to how you feel and do what feels right day by day.

PEAK Physiotherapy is a leading private physiotherapy company in Yorkshire, specialising in the care and rehabilitation of ladies with ante and post-natal musculoskeletal problems. For more information visit