Are Pregnancy and Exercise compatible?

02 March 2018

Are Pregnancy and Exercise compatible?

Are Pregnancy and Exercise compatible?

Benefits, recommendations and testimonials about the practice of physical exercise during pregnancy.

By Abigail Fonseca, Personal Trainer


Like so many women I decided to live the most magical experience of life … to give life a new life!

1 year ago I was in the last trimester of pregnancy. 11 months ago I was a mother for the first time after 39 weeks and 1 day. I had a scheduled cesarean section for pelvic position. If I had not scheduled, I would still be able to have my baby in utero for a few more days!

I have always practiced physical activity and the period of pregnancy was no exception. Could not be! I trained until the day before delivery. I lived a quiet pregnancy, totally active and with a weight gain of only 8kg. Zero of back pain, zero of swollen legs, zero of difficulties to sleep, zero limitations. If I consider that my previous physical condition helped? Yes! If I considered staying active during gestation was crucial? Yes! If you consider that healthy eating is also responsible for the results? Yes! If I consider that there were days when the will did not exist (mainly due to the sleep and the sickness of the first quarter)? Yes! But 6 times a week I practiced religiously with the appropriate adaptations at each stage.

There were constant feedbacks from those who came across me: family, work colleagues, clients, students … most of them motivational, of admiration … other reprovers (especially the looks). There are still those who think that pregnancy is disease. Guaranteed not !!!! My constant concern has always been the well-being of my baby who was born healthy and full of life!


Regular exercise in all stages of life, including pregnancy, generates health benefits. Thus, pregnancy is the ideal motto for maintaining or adopting a healthy lifestyle.

It is known that pregnancy leads to profound changes in the most varied systems of the maternal body (hematological, hormonal, respiratory, cardiovascular, metabolic and musculoskeletal changes). Physical exercise, in addition to helping the body adjust to changes in the belly to grow and prepare it for childbirth, can help combat some of the most common problems in this phase. In addition, physical exercise improves self-esteem and promotes the release of wellness hormones … these feelings make the pregnant woman feel good and consequently her baby.

Benefits of Exercise in Pregnancy

  • It contributes to physical well-being;
  • Reduces levels of stress, anxiety and depression
  • Reduces propensity for back pain
  • Reduces propensity for constipation
  • Reduces propensity for swollen legs by improving blood circulation
  • Facilitates weight control
  • Facilitates postpartum recovery
  • Improves aerobic capacity
  • Improves muscle capacity and balance
  • Improves posture
  • It contributes to the strengthening of the pelvic muscles

When to start?

It is essential, and for me an imposition, that there is medical authorization for the practice of exercise during pregnancy. At the first appointment you should inform the doctor who practices physical activity or who intends to start. In the same way, you should seek the help of a professional to guide your training properly. Gathering these two assumptions will be able to start an adapted training program.

If you have not done any physical activity or practice for more than 6 months (sedentary) and will now start your training program, the beginning should be gradual. Low intensity and no impact activities are the ideal choice. Walking and body and mind activities can be a good start.

If you have been practicing regular physical activity (active more than 6 months) you should adjust your workouts and your choices at each stage of pregnancy.

In both cases, and contrary to what is thought, resistance training is not advised against. However, reinforcing the idea already conveyed, it is essential that it be appropriate for each woman and the trimester of pregnancy.

It is important to note that in each trimester of pregnancy there are different considerations regarding changes in the woman’s body and consequently in the training to be performed by the woman.

General recommendations for training during pregnancy

The recommendations listed below follow, among others, the guidelines of ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) and ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists):

  • Train at least 3 to 4 times a week, 20 to 45 minutes
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes
  • Stay fresh and hydrated (before, during and after)
  • Constantly monitor the intensity of the training through the effort perception scale (RPE), which should be ≤7 and / or by means of a constant heart rate (HR) measurement, which should be ≤ 75% HRmax or 145 BPM, always opting for the lowest
  • Train balance and stability
  • Privilege the postural reinforcement
  • Privilege Muscle Balance
  • Avoid very hot and stuffy places
  • Avoid standing too long
  • Avoid isometric contractions
  • Avoid exercises above head level
  • Avoid exercises with axial load (load on shoulders)
  • Do not perform exercises in the belly position (belly down) from the second trimester, because the fetus will press the inferior vena cava with consequent reduction of the venous return to the heart

Alarm Signals

If during your workout you have 1 or more of the following signs, you should immediately stop exercising:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain or chest pain
  • Sudden swelling of hands, face, or feet
  • Migraine
  • Dizziness
  • Reduction of fetal movement
  • Red, painful, or swollen legs
  • Severe pain in the pubic area or the hip joint
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Vaginal irritation
  • Oral temperature greater than 38º
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Uterine contractions
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Irregular breathing


It is essential that the pregnant woman include in her routines activities that provide her with well-being. Training time should be a pleasurable time for the expectant mother and your baby.

Get in touch with fitness technicians so you can train with maximum benefit.


I share the testimony of 3 of my pregnant clients with whom I have had and I am pleased to work. I am grateful to them for entrusting me something as valuable as their body before, during and after this magical phase of life. Together we hope to inspire all pregnant women to train!

Joana Fonseca – 39 years old, 3rd pregnancy (1st to 9 years, 2nd to 6 years); currently 6 months pregnant

“I trained before I got pregnant. Race approximately 3 times a week, skating lessons 1 time a week and most recently gym. By medical indication I suspended the practice of physical exercise until the 12 weeks of gestation.

Currently training with Personal Trainer control. The training helps me in maintaining my mobility, in correcting posture, in weight control and from the psychological point of view it is essential to keep myself active. They advised me to avoid high-impact exercise and running. Everything has gone well.

There are people around me who react very positively and encourage me to continue. ”

Sofia Alves – 31 years old, 1st weight (mother 1 year)

“I always trained at least 3 times a week (bodybuilding and group classes). At the end of the week he made walks of 6 to 9 km.

I trained throughout my pregnancy and up to three days before my baby was born. Training allowed me to be always active, have more energy and feel good. Additionally, it allowed me to maintain my ability to make varied moves exactly as I did previously. In courses for pregnant women I noticed a great difference between my ability and that of other pregnant women, even when the belly was already large and heavy. Aesthetically, I was able to maintain a good form which facilitated postpartum recovery that was important to me.

Throughout my pregnancy I was accompanied by a Personal Trainer who had followed me before. At the beginning of each trimester all the exercises were adapted During all the phases I felt good to train. I would like to point out that I think it is extremely important to have specialized monitoring during this very delicate phase of pregnancy.

I have never had any complications and as such have not been imposed on me. My baby has always grown healthy and born well developed.

There is my lap I always noticed a lot of disapproval for the training I had. What I have found is that people seem aware of the importance of physical exercise during pregnancy, however, it is somewhat illusory because they are not prepared to see a pregnant woman to train seriously. For most people to train during the gestation period is just doing pilates and small walks. They think gym training hurts the baby. This way of thinking, as we know, is wrong and there is an urgent need to change mentalities. ”

Márcia Carvalho - 35 years old, 1st pregnancy (mother 3 and a half months old)

"I trained before getting pregnant, about 8 hours per week (functional training, average 40 km of running and stretching).

In pregnancy I kept the training with adaptation. I was accompanied to adapt the training to the condition of pregnant and every trimester of gestation.

Everything went well during all phases! I felt the need to stop completely with the race because I did not feel comfortable with the impact, but I replaced it with elliptical. I advise pregnant women, and all people in general, to seek the support of a professional. Every human being is a unique being so that what is valid for one may not be for another. Thus, it must always be adapted to the person concerned and never do because they saw doing.

Keeping the training allowed me to maintain my well-being and the pregnancy to proceed without any problem or contraindication. In addition, it has helped reduce the discomfort we feel in relation to our body's changes. She was a pregnant proud of my forms! I had a healthy and very happy pregnancy! I always felt that I was doing good to my body and my baby! "