Exercise during pregnancy: how much is too much?


Exercise is known to its positive effects during pregnancy, especially for those who exercise prior to pregnancy. Regular physical activity can help you manage your weight, promote mental well-being and decrease your risk of gestational diabetes. But how much is too much for the little baby growing inside you?

We received this email from a viewer:

Dear Dr. Manny,
I’ve just started my second trimester, and I’ve been able to keep up with my normal training and running schedule, but how can I tell if I’m pushing myself too hard? Is there an appropriate level that I should aim to get my heart rate under?

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity for healthy pregnant women, but you should always check with your GYNECOLOGIST before you can continue with your normal exercise regime.

“Changes can be made, especially by the increase of progesterone, which affects joint and ligament laxity— that can increase [the risk of injury if [you] are not careful,” Dr. Jessica Shepard, a GYNECOLOGIST and director of minimally invasive gynecology at the University of Illinois in Chicago, told

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According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology guidelines, there is no heart rate for every pregnant woman to follow. However, their recommendations do suggest that women participate in moderate-intensity activities where there is enough movement to generate sweat and increase the heart rate. Examples of activities are safe for pregnant women, such as walking, swimming, stationary cycling, and modified yoga or Pilates.

“In patients with a stable normal pregnancies free of contra-indications to exercise, they can strive to be their target heart rate,” Dr. Connie Faro, a GYNAECOLOGIST and head of Staff at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas, a part of the Hospital Corporation of America, told

Faro advises her patients to reduce the intensity as well as symptoms such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, dizziness or fatigue occur. She also says mothers should listen to their body because if they are not properly oxygenated, nor their baby.

Lisa Druxman, fitness expert and founder of FIT4MOM, an exercise program tailored for women in all stages of motherhood, recommends using a talk test or rate of perceived exertion scale (RPE) to keep training sessions to a comfortable level for you and your baby.

“For moderate-intensity exercise, ratings of perceived exertion should be 13 to 14, slightly hard on the 6-20 Borg scale of perceived exertion,” said Druxman “Using the talk test is another way to measure effort. As long as a woman can carry on a conversation while exercising, they are probably not overexerting yourself.”

“Exercise should be energy generation, not energy depleted. The Baby can feel what the mother feels,” she added. “This is a time to focus on consistency, not competitive exercise.”

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