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Pregnancy + Exercise

prenatal exercise

Written by: Rachelle Howse

Congratulations on your pregnancy!

This is a time in a women’s life that is both exciting and terrifying! You start asking yourself a million different questions: Now what? Can I exercise? Can I run? Should I be performing core exercises? 

It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed and confused, especially when Dr. Google is telling you contraindicated advice? This is when you need to STOP and BREATHE!

Pregnant women are nervous about exercising while pregnant.  They are unsure of which exercises they can or should do. They are worried about doing too much or not enough.  They might be concerned about gaining too much or too little weight during their pregnancy and how that will affect both themselves and the growing fetus.  

If you are not having any complications in your pregnancy, you should be doing something to keep active, even if it’s just walking.

Start your workout routine slowly and build up accordingly based on recommendations from your health care provider and a qualified/certified fitness professional that specializes in prenatal fitness. The fitness industry is not regulated, so please make sure you do your research and ask questions when you do find an instructor to ensure they have experience and the certifications to teach a prenatal fitness class.


Research has shown that healthy eating, reducing your stress levels and exercising while pregnant has many benefits to both mom and baby. (SOGC; AJOG)

  • Lowering risk of gestational diabetes
  • Minimizing weight gain
  • Helping with constipation
  • Decrease in stress and anxiety
  • Reduced leg swelling (edema)
  • Less complicated labour
  • Reducing back pain
  • Improving self image
  • Increasing energy levels
  • Faster recovery time
  • Babies are less likely to be colic
  • Babies may have a healthier heart
  • Lowering the risk of gestational hypertension


  • Consult your health care provider before you exercise. You will need your health care provider to fill out the PARmed – X for Pregnancy Form before you participate in an exercise program.
  • Know if you have any absolute or relative contraindications to exercise during your pregnancy
  • Stay hydrated to prevent overheating
  • Wear comfortable and loose fitting clothing to help regulate your body temperature while you workout
  • Wear comfortable and appropriate exercise footwear
  • Assess for Diastasis Recti during pregnancy
  • Be aware of your posture and body alignment
  • Be aware that you might feel off balance while exercising due to the change of your centre of gravity while pregnant
  • Seek out treatment from a pelvic floor physiotherapist or a personal trainer who is specialized in pre/postnatal
  • Eat before and after exercise.  This will help you regulate your insulin and blood sugar levels so you don’t feel faint or dizzy


The recommendations for pregnant women who have an uncomplicated pregnancy is to exercise 3-4 days/ week for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity focusing on using large muscles groups. Examples of different activities would be: swimming, walking, cycling, low impact aerobics or resistance training with lower weights. (CSEP)


  • Spotting or bleeding
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Uterine contractions
  • Excessive swelling in your extremities
  • Feeling of dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina

There are so many reasons to stay active during your pregnancy!  Every woman has a different experience being pregnant. Some women can run until the end of their pregnancy, and some can barely walk by 20 weeks due to pelvic floor heaviness. Be patient with your body and your pregnancy. Joints are loosening up, breasts are getting larger, hips are expanding, baby (or babies) is growing… your body is going through something amazing, but very demanding! So enjoy that low – impact aerobics class. Take a prenatal yoga class. Go swimming.  Add resistance training with lighter weights. The benefits of being active during your pregnancy are too good to pass down! So go and register for a prenatal fitness class taught by a qualified and certified trainer … and as an added bonus, you’ll meet other moms- to- be in your community!

Rachelle Howse is a mom to 3 young girls and owner of Momentum Health and Wellness in Edmonton, Alberta. She has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and over 12 years of experience in the fitness industry working as a Certified Exercise Physiologist and Pre & Post Natal Fitness Specialist. She started her company to inspire and educate others about fitness and wellness. Her goal is to create a community of prenatal and postnatal women who support one another through their health and wellness journey as well as educating families on the importance of creating a healthy environment at home and being a positive role model for their children. 

Visit Rachelle at, reach out to her at, and follow her on Facebook or Instagram for motivation and inspiration!