When it comes to pregnancy and exercise, there are so many conflicting messages out there it’s hard to know what to believe. We get to the bottom of some of the big issues around exercise and pregnancy so you can stay in shape safely, and healthily while you’re expecting.

Pregnancy and exercise is a hotly debated topic and it's hard for pregnant women to know what you can and can’t do when it comes to exercise. We're committed to giving you the best understanding of what exercise does to both mother and child, and how you can make sure that you and your baby are safe and comfortable while being active.

Disclaimer: It’s really important that you consult your doctor about your plans for being active. You should explain the nature of the training you would like to do, and keep them updated with how you feel during exercise. And if you have medical or obstetric complications you must be evaluated before participating in any physical activity.

The latest guidelines1 encourage regular exercise before, during and after pregnancy for both active and sedentary women. They emphasize that pregnancy and the associated physiological changes are no longer seen as limitations - this is not a time to be confined to the couch. In fact, they urge previously inactive women to take up some form of exercise, suggesting that this is the perfect time to make healthy lifestyle changes.

But why, for those few months of your life, when all you want to do is sleep and eat donuts, do we have to eat really well and exercise?

Here are some very good reasons:

  • Maintaining a good level of fitness will set you up for an easier, shorter labor with better recovery and fewer chances of complications3.
  • Training your abs during pregnancy will also lessen the degree of abdominal wall separation – a condition which can cause lower back and pelvic pain2.
  • Exercise helps normalize the birth weight of your baby. This is important as heavy babies are more likely to develop illnesses such as obesity, metabolic disease and cardiovascular disease later in life4.
  • Staying physically active helps you avoid Gestational Diabetes Mellitus – a type of diabetes that can occur during pregnancy. This condition puts you at greater risk of complications, and makes you more prone to developing Type 2 Diabetes in the future. Women with GMD are also more likely to deliver large babies, who may subsequently suffer from childhood obesity and metabolic disorders4.
  • Problems with high blood pressure – known as hypertensive disorders – can cause issues like pre-term delivery and is also the leading cause of maternal mortality. Studies have shown that being active during pregnancy can also help to prevent these complications4.

Other benefits include having babies that are alert, calm, self-quieting, and better able to cope with the stresses of labor3.

It's worth noting that neglecting exercise and gaining too much weight during pregnancy can place extra stress on the joints and contribute to an increase of lower back pain3.

So now you know all about the great benefits of staying active during your pregnancy, check out our advice on which Les Mills programs are the best while you're expecting and some modifications you can make to make them safe for you and your baby. Find a class near you or get 24/7 unlimited access to online workouts with LES MILLS On Demand.

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