Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

The Health Benefits Of Moderate To Vigorous Exercise During Pregnancy

December 7, 2020


Many clients I work with, particularly in the greater Boulder Area who are active and fit prior to pregnancy, want to know what types of exercise and intensity is appropriate to continue during pregnancy. First, it is always important to check with your OB/Midwife to make sure you are safe to continue or change your exercise routine during pregnancy. We’ve outlined some of the health benefits of exercise during pregnancy for both mother and baby in a previous post here. One of the benefits we have not discussed is that women who exercised regularly during pregnancy were more likely to return to exercising and regain their pre-pregnancy fitness level faster than those who stopped.

A long-term study by Dr. Clapp in 2008 found that women who exercised regularly during pregnancy, at or above 50% of their pre-pregnancy exercise volume (3-5 or more times a week, at an intensity of 50% to over 65% of VO2max), were able to return to exercise faster after delivery and with less musculoskeletal issues, better abdominal tone, and less stress urinary incontinence, compared to those who chose to stop exercising. Additional benefits included increased fitness level and lower cardiovascular risk profiles in the women who voluntarily maintained their vigorous exercise routine (running, aerobics, and cross-country skiing) compared to those who stopped exercising. These health benefits can also extend long term, well past pregnancy. Women who maintain weight-bearing exercise during pregnancy also demonstrated improved long term fitness and lower cardiovascular risk in the perimenopausal period (18-20 years after their first pregnancy). The benefit was still present for those who maintained a low-volume weight bearing exercise routine compared to those who did not exercise.

Overall, 95% of the women who exercised regularly prior to pregnancy, returned to exercise after delivery, while only 30% in the non-exercise group returned to their pre-pregnancy fitness level.  75% of the group that exercised during pregnancy did not report exercises related difficulties and few reported any musculoskeletal complaints.

Physical therapy can help address any musculoskeletal issues that arise during pregnancy that might otherwise become barriers to maintaining a healthy exercise routine. Maintaining an exercise routine that feels right for you during pregnancy can provide long term health benefits.

Click Here to schedule your next appointment with the experts at MEND