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Training for Baby: Working out while pregnant

Posted August 23, 2011

I was talking to my trainer the other day about working out while pregnant. Before the rumors start, I’m not pregnant!

But I wanted to know from him what he thinks I can and can’t do when I do conceive. I will, of course, also be consulting my doctor about specific exercises like crunches. My doctor approved cardio and weight-training up to 10 pound for me when I get pregnant.

Trainer Anthony had some interesting things to say. He has had clients whose doctors say they can’t do anything while pregnant, and others who say they can do everything.

I’ve read articles that say pregnant women should:


  • Not lift more than 12 pounds
  • Avoid exercises where you are flat on your back
  • Keep your heart-rate below 140 beats
  • Avoid abdominal exercises
  • Not do exercises where you jump a lot

Did any of you follow these instructions while pregnant? What did your doctors suggest?

I am specifically concerned with the heart rate issue. My heart rate goes up when I work out, especially with cardio.

I researched this further and found an article from the Mayo Clinic where they say that the heart rate isn’t a concern for women who regularly exercise.

How did you stay fit while pregnant?

Kathy is a web producer, entertainment expert and concert photographer for She has written a manuscript about her life as an entertainment reporter and pop culture. Learn more about Kathy on her website. On Wednesdays here on Go Ask Mom, she's chronicling her efforts to lose weight before she and her husband start a family.



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  • nbolick Aug 25, 2011

    During my 1st pregnancy, I was working 60 hour weeks up until my son was born which left no time or energy for exercise. A year after that pregnancy, I quit that job and went part-time and was able to get into a good workout routine involving running and workout videos. I kept that up through my next successful pregnancy and managed running up to 38 weeks. As I got bigger I inserted walking intervals in my runs... Run 10 minutes, walk 2, etc. After 20 weeks I stopped doing exercises on my back, but I didn't completely stop abdominal exercises. I still did my regular workout videos but modified the amount of weight and the position. As you get bigger and weigh more, you don't need to hold much weight when you're doing lunges! I felt like the exercise helped with my balance, energy level, etc. I felt so much better during my 2nd pregnancy than my 1st though I gained the same amount of weight. I did weigh 11lbs less when I got pregnant the subsequent time though. My OB ok'd everything.

  • WillyT Aug 24, 2011

    I agree with the others, if your doctor clears you, you can do whatever exercise you were doing prior to getting pregnant but just don't overdo it. I have been an avid exerciser my whole life and continued throughtout pregnancy, though I quit running prior to conceiving and chose to stick with walking once pregnant (mainly b/c it was my first and I was over cautious, AND the bathroom thing ;), walking was just more comfortable for me. But I have known many runners who ran with no problems throughout most of their pregnancy. I also lifted weights throughout and just stuck with my usual maintence mode instead of trying to gain strength. So basically, I did my usual stuff but kept the intensity moderate. As for abdominals, I think it is ok to work them, just not with exercises on your back after the 1st trimester. Of course, I'm not a doctor but I would think keeping your core strong with safe exercises (such as planks) can only help throughout preg and during labor and as a bonus,

  • SusieQ910 Aug 24, 2011

    Walking is always the best exercise. The women at my gym were only concerned about balance on a treadmill the further along I got. Depending on the time of year, you could walk more outdoors. Just make sure to stay hydrated!!! Keeps you from swelling up and dehydration can lead to preterm labor or cause contractions toward the end. I heard the same lift little weight, avoid abdominal exercises and stay low impact.

  • RunningBlue Aug 24, 2011

    I worked out throughout my pregnancy & honestly, exercise was the only thing that made 'morning sickness' subside. I was able to run until about 8 months - and only stopped because I felt like I had to stop for bathroom breaks too frequently. After that, I switched to the elliptical -- and after my son was born, I could strap him in the baby bjorn & he'd fall asleep when I got on the elliptical. My doctor never had any issues with my workout schedule. Plus, while I was at a healthy weight prior to becoming pregnant, I still only gained 12 lbs & delivered an 8lb 4oz baby.

  • lisalexander Aug 24, 2011

    I agree with aloflin...your on the right track adjusting your body to workout prior to getting pregnant and continuing that afterwards. I strapped a brace under my belly to help with lifting my heavy belly while jogging on the treadmill. I felt so good that I was back in the gym one week after giving birth doing light workouts. Listen to your body & doctor.

  • Go_APPS Aug 24, 2011

    I haven't changed much at all with my activity level (will be 39 weeks tomorrow with my first). I am not the type to "work out" but love playing sports and being outside/active, and have maintained status quo (except summer co-ed softball league) throughout my pregnancy.
    I think the most important thing is to listen to your body for what and how much to do. I had my check up yesterday and have not had any issues with weight or BP at anytime during my pregnancy (even earned a "PERfect" from the Dr. yesterday in reference to my weight - after being told to lose 20lbs in the months leading up to getting pregnant).
    Congrats on your progress and good luck w/ all things baby!!! :)

  • aloflin Aug 24, 2011

    Usually whatever your body is used to doing before becoming pregnant, you can continue once you are pregnant, atleast until you become so far along that you are moving slower! I walked 6 miles every day of pregnancy even the day I went into labor. Working out makes post pregnancy so much easier to get back into it and to get back in shape. Just don't push yourself too hard that you feel faint or dizzy. Good luck!

  • luvnmylil111 Aug 24, 2011

    I am an avid exerciser and was a marathoner prior to becoming pregnant with my first. Unfortunately, there's not a ton of research out there on working out while pregnant, since most scientists/physicians are not willing to take on the liability of a research project involving pregnant women (understandably). I was cautious during my first pregnancy and wore a heart rate monitor, and did not let my heart rate go above 140. I had also heard that so long as you are able to keep up on ongoing conversation while working out, you could work out at whatever level that was for you. But it was my first pregnancy, and I wanted to play it safe, so I usually biked or did the elliptical with the heart rate monitor. With my second pregnancy, I gained confidence and after a good talk with my physician, I allowed my heart rate to go up to 150. I ran through most of that pregnancy. At 40 weeks, I ran 6 miles twice, hoping to induce labor. My vote is to go conservative with your first!