Keep moving! 3 Prenatal Exercise Myths Debunked

Keep moving! 3 prenatal exercise myths debunked

Renske Gosselink

Decades of research has uncovered substantial benefits from exercise during pregnancy.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the specifics of what type of exercise is safe or beneficial, the myths are numerous. Here are 3 of the biggest myths explained to help you feel more confident about your ability to exercise for two! 

MYTH 1: If you did not exercise regularly prior to getting pregnant, then pregnancy is not the time to start

The benefits of exercise during pregnancy are so great (for both mom and baby!) that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now recommends that pregnant women get at least 20-30 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity on most, if not all, days of the week. If you were not a regular exerciser prior to your pregnancy, start with simple moderate intensity activities that don’t require a huge learning curve (walking is a great one!).


MYTH 2: Avoid getting your heart rate up over 140 beats per minute.


This is an outdated guideline from 1985 that won’t seem to go away!  ACOG eliminated it in 1994 after research proved that heart rate is NOT an appropriate gauge of exercise intensity when you are pregnant because there are so many other things going on in your body that cause fluctuations in your heart rate.  Therefore, your heart rate is often not a true measure of how you really feel.  Today, the official ACOG guideline is to exercise at a level that feels “moderate” to “slightly hard” for your own body.  So, it’s ok (actually good!) to break a sweat. Just don’t take it to the point of breathless.  Another good gauge is to stay within a range where you can still complete a full sentence out loud.  Be sure to follow cardio modifications for pregnancy to help you reap the benefits of cardio exercise in a safer way. 


MYTH 3: You shouldn’t work your abs during pregnancy.

: This could not be further from the truth!  Proper core training during pregnancy can alleviate back pain, prevent common pregnancy pains and injuries, facilitate an easier labor, and help speed your recovery after delivery.  There is a right and a wrong way to go about it though!  Focus on your deep core muscles: your transverse abdominis (TVA) -- AKA your body’s “inner girdle” -- and your pelvic floor muscles -- AKA the “floor of your core”.  Begin by practicing two foundational techniques to activate these muscles – Belly Breathing and Kegels.  Also, after you begin to develop an obvious belly, avoid exercises lying still and flat on your back, as this could restrict blood flow to the fetus, and avoid any crunching or twisting movements of the torso, as these moves place excessive pressure on your outer abdominal wall (and too much pressure could lead to a separation of your abdominal muscles, known as diastasis recti). 

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