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Question
Posted by: mom2b | 2004/11/22

Pregnant - Gym Programme?

Hi FitnessDoc,

I'm 24 and I'm almost 14 weeks pregnant. Before I fell pregnant I use to be very fit and did a lot of exercise, but my doc wanted me to stop playing indoor netball as it is a contact sport. He advised me to continue doing some sort of sport / exercise but due to bad "morning sickness" which lasted throughout the day - I could not even go to the gym.

Luckily or rather hopefully the morning sickness has stopped and I'm back in action at the gym! I do a couple of minutes (approx 10 -15 min) on the bicycle, couple of minutes (approx. 10 minutes) walking on treadmill, then a little bit of circuit training. But I can't do everything (i.e. lying on my tummy to do leg pull ups etc). My gym also does not have a swimming pool.

Please help me to put together a healthy programme.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi Mom2b

It is a very good idea to keep active during the pregnancy. There is a lot of research that actually supports the idea of exercise while pregnant. It shows that exercise can lead to a shorter active phase of labour, less prone to gestational diabetes and it will help recovery from labour. Current research shows that the baby’s born to an active mother have higher AGPAR scores and have healthier birth weights.

First things first, before starting any exercises during pregnancy, medical permission is vital and so I would suggest getting clearance from a doctor or gynaecologist before starting up. I am glad that your doctor has already been involved in your pregnancy, and I really do suggest that you keep it this way throughout.

Now, apart from what you have learned already, that contact sports are to be avoided, the very important thing is intensity. It's usually safe to just continue with the same exercise routine at a lower intensity if active before pregnancy. If not, then it obviously complicates things a little because there's the dual obstacle of getting fit and the pregnancy at the same time, and pregnancy is not a time where you want this added stress.

HOwever, the key is intensity and most exercises are safe provided they are done at a well-controlled intensity, which usually means take it easy! There are a couple of hotspots or potential problem stages during pregnancy. The first and third trimester are the more risky phases, for different reasons.

What you need to remember is that the baby has a core temperature 1 degree higher than you do, so when you start to push up the intensity too much your core temperature goes up and consequently so does the baby’s. It is therefore also important that you keep cool during exercise wearing loose clothing and drinking lots of water. Also try to exercise in early morning or the evening when it is cooler. This is particularly important very very early on during the pregnancy in the first trimester and so keeping cool and keeping the intensity lower is very important, so this phase has perhaps passed by for you, being at 14 weeks already.

You can do most activities in the gym such as cycling, treadmill, stepper and weight training. As you have noticed, you will need to however avoid exercises on your back for extended periods or on your stomach. During pregnancy your body produces a hormone called Relaxin, which makes your ligaments lax in preparation for the birth. Therefore it is not advised that you do any jumping or jarring activities, as this will put you at greater risk to injury.

You can still do weight training though, by using the machines in the circuit. The important thing here is to avoid lifting weights that are too heavy for you, causing you to strain. This is called the VALSALVA manoeuvre

You will also find that as your stomach gets bigger and your center of gravity changes it will be harder for you to keep your balance in activities that require quick changes of direction such as aerobics.

As your pregnancy progresses and you start to feel more tired you can move your training into the pool and take up swimming or aqua aerobics, which you will find very soothing during the final months of your pregnancy. It's a pity you have no pool to do this at - the alternative is to go to those pezzi ball classes - Virgin calls them V-Core, and while some may also involve a lot of lying down and may therefore not be possible, there are much easier classes that you can try.

Good luck


The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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