Pregnancy, Exercise, and Eating

Photo: Takis Markopoulos

You may be tempted to decrease or stop exercising while pregnant. Or you may be tempted to eat whatever you crave–no matter how unhealthy. But doctors recommend you continue to exercise throughout any normal pregnancy. And, of course, eating right is more important now than ever, both for your health and your baby’s.

Pregnancy and Exercise:
If you normally exercise at very high intensity, you will need to decrease to moderate intensity during pregnancy. Your guideline is to keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute. So if you usually run at 6.5 or 7.0 miles per hour, you will likely decrease your pace to 4-5 miles per hour now. This is difficult for women like me who like hard and sweat-pouring workouts. But you can still do most of your usual workout activities as long as you slow them down or modify them.

Exercise Appropriate During Pregnancy:
Treadmill or walking/light jogging
Elliptical machine
Stair Climber
Stationary bike
Weight training

Exercise Not Recommended During Pregnancy:
Fast Jogging/Running
High Intensity Cardio
High Impact Aerobics

Pregnancy and Eating:
In the past 9 years I have been pregnant five times, so I understand cravings of all sorts: potato chips, chicken soup, fudge, popcorn, chocolate frosties, and even cheese grits. Most foods can be eaten in moderation during pregnancy. But here is a brief list of unsafe foods: fish high in mercury (including tuna), cold cuts, caffeine, alcohol, unpasteurized cheese, raw sprouts, raw sushi, smoked fish, raw or rare meat, foods prepared with raw eggs. Some of these are allowed in small amounts, such a serving of tuna per week. The book referenced below is very comprehensive about all types of foods and the recommended amounts during pregnancy. Generally, try to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods. Find foods full of iron and folic acid. Eat a lot of fruits and veggies! Drink a ton of water! All of these are great habits to start now and should continue when you are breastfeeding.

References: Murkoff, Heidi and Mazel, Sharon. Eating Well When You’re Expecting. Chapter 7: “Eating Safely When You’re Expecting.”

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I am a Physical Therapist and Ergonomics Consultant, based out of Columbia, SC. My passion is to write about and speak about pain/injury prevention. I started Pain Talks as a consulting business in 2018.

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