Medical Q&As

Pregnant - gym safe?

I go to the gym three times a week. Is it ok to continue this exercise during pregnancy?

It is safe to continue attending the gym but you will have to modify your exercise routine as you progress through the pregnancy. There is some evidence that women who are fitter tend to suffer less low back pain in pregnancy and some research has indicated that the duration of labour is shorter in fit women. If you have been following a regular exercise programme it is unlikely that you will have to change that programme during the first trimester. However, it is important to pay attention to how your body is responding to the exercise. If the programme feels that it is too exacting then you should ease back. This is not the time to be breaking pain barriers. Remember to drink plenty of water to ensure that you are adequately hydrated. As you progress through the pregnancy you will find it more difficult to exercise because of the increased size of your abdomen and the increased weight of the baby. This will force you in a natural way to reduce the intensity of your exercise regime. It is also important to emphasize that you can be more prone to ligament strain during pregnancy due to the effects of the hormone relaxin. This hormone softens ligaments particularly in the pelvis and lower back, which is an important preparatory step for the eventual labour. However, it is still important to do some gentle stretching after exercise but donít overdo it. Some authorities advise against running and jumping in the third trimester because of the potential of stretching your pelvic floor, which can affect bladder control. I should add that opinions differ in relation to that final point but I think it is reasonable to err on the side of caution. In summary it is safe to continue your exercise programme for the first trimester but as you progress through the pregnancy your body will force you to reduce the intensity of your programme.