Exercising While Pregnant: Good for Mom, Great for Baby

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I'm a strong advocate of exercise during pregnancy. I ran through most of my pregnancies, which helped keep my weight gain in the normal range, made labor and delivery much easier, and also helped me bounce back into shape more quickly after birth. I used to get some funny looks from neighbors as I ran, and eventually waddled down the street, but I didn't mind. Although the benefit to mothers is well-established, new research is showing that exercise can also benefit baby.

A new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, divided 84 pregnant women into two groups. One group began a home-based stationary cycling program (40 minutes, 5 times a week) at 20 weeks pregnant and continued until birth. The other group continued with their current level of activity.

Comparing the two groups, exercise did not have an effect on the mother's weight, but it did have an effect on the baby's weight. Mothers who didn't exercise had babies who were an average of 5 ounces heavier than those mothers who did exercise. This is important because previous research has found that babies who are larger at birth (higher than 8 pounds, 12 ounces) have a greater risk of childhood obesity.

This study demonstrates that your pregnancy can still benefit from regular moderate exercise, even if you don't start until halfway through. (Assuming you have doctor's approval.) It would be interesting study women who start exercising earlier in their pregnancy (before 20 weeks) compared to those who do not, and how that affects a baby's weight.

What do you think? If you've had children, did you exercise during pregnancy? What benefits did you notice for you and/or your baby?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


I didn't have an exercise routine with either one of my babies. One was 7lbs 8oz and one was 7lbs 12oz. The second was my boy. He's two and going to be built like a football player. just like his dad. : ) Report
I did not purposely exercise during any of my pregnancies because I was in continual danger of miscarriage. I did only what was absolutely necessary since I was supposed to be on bedrest. I still had good labor and deliveries. My children were over 8 pounds at birth, but only one is slightly overweight as an adult -- and I think there were other factors contributing to that. Report
I walked at the first part of my pregnancy, but through the winter months had a harder time exercising. My next pregnancy I want to stay fit. For myself and for my baby. Report
Great info Report
I was very active with my first pregnancy. Clogging until 7 months prego and then walking 2 to 3 miles almost daily. Our son was born 7lbs 11 oz and 21 inches and labor was honestly very easy and quick. I am looking forward to keeping just as active with future preganacies. Report
I walked about 4 miles a day each of my two pregnancies and gained a little over 20 lbs. each time. I lost the weight within a week of each baby's birth and had healthy babies. The only complication was my first birth where the cord was wrapped around my son's neck so ended up being an emergency c-section. My daughter was born VBAC with only a pudendal block for pain. I think exercising helped each situation be the best it could be. I wouldn't recommend running or other high-impact choices due to the eventual weakening of the pelvic floor structures that many times results from overdoing it. Report
I did not exercise during my last pregnancy. I luckily (and I have no idea how) only gained 25 lbs. My son was 8 lbs 4oz. (so big, but also fairly average). I had a difficult labor and delivery.

I started exercising regularly this past July, yoga, running, kickboxing. I got pregnant in Nov. So far, I have actually gained more weight this time around than at the same point in my last pregnancy, but it is definitely all baby! I feel much better. More energized in this pregnancy than the last and less sluggish. I also started strength training with a PT at my gym. She targets my upper back and chest, lower body (soooo many squats and lunges), and core to help strengthen me for the extra weight of pregnancy, labor and delivery. I am highly confident that this time around, L&D will be much easier, and not just because this is my second, but because my body (and frankly mind) are much better prepared for it.

I am highly hoping that the studies that show that babies born to women who exercise are smaller (though not dangerously so)... I wouldn't mind a nice 7lb 5 oz baby this time around:) Report
With my first, I didn't exercise much during my pregnancy. I ended up being on bedrest for my last month as I had some late complications, but my daughter is doing fine now. With my second, I continued my Taekwondo classes through my second trimester. I had planned to continue beyond that, but when my aching joints went away during a 2 week Christmas break from TKD classes, I decided my body was telling me to back off LOL. In both cases I had easy deliveries, but I do think that I bounced back more quickly after my second. Report
I wish I had exercised. Of course my son was born almost 42 years ago. :) Report
I have every intention of exercising throughout any pregnancies I get to have. Then again, like Sunny-Dee, I might not feel very up to it! Report
my grandparents neighbours up at the cottage, the mother has had 7 kids, the amount of exercise she got during the preganancy was unbelievable, doing yardwork, gardening, feeding and working the animals, walking to and from church, whatnot, she still had all her kids at over 10 pounds each. The oldest is about 10, the second oldest about 8, all of them are as skinny and healthy as can be. All very active. Running around when its playtime, wroking when told to. The whole family, including the grandparents are not even in the overweight catergory. Makes me wonder if they included backround checks as well. This family is old fashined mennonittes (horse and buggy type). Report
I ran a minimum of 3 days a week while pregnant, maintaining mileage of at least 20 kms per week..including a marathon at 16 weeks and a 5K 5 days before Bryden was born. I ran the morning I went into labour. I exercised 6 days a week during the 1st trimester because I couldn't find an appropriate yoga class, but during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, I exercised 7 days a week and missed a grand total of ONE day of exercise, that was because of my baby shower.

I'm 1 month postpartum, was back in pre-preg clothes within a week and I'm getting weird looks when I go out because people cannot reconcile the young looking baby with the non-flabby mama!

Bryden was born very "lean" - studies have shown that babies born to women who exercise are SLIGHTLY lighter (but still within healthy guidelines) but have a lower body fat percentage. Report
I didn't exercise with my first, she was 8lbs 14oz and I did with my 2nd, he was 7lbs 4oz...I never even considered their weight was partially determined by my fitness levels! Report
I exercised with my first child and was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes in just a couple months. With my second, born almost 12 weeks ago, it is taking a little bit longer haha due to a 60 lb weight gain. I was on bed rest for a little bit of the time, and did not exercise as frequently as I did with my first. Report
OK- when I found out I was pregnant I was gunghoe for exercising. Then I started feeling pregnant. And I wondered how the CRAP women are supposed to exercise while they're pregnant? I felt weighed down by 50-ton sandbags- not because of the extra human inside of me- but because I was so EXHAUSTED all the time. Report
I have 2 boys and took prenatal exercise classes for both pregnancies. It was the best thing I could have done for myself. 1 day a week was step aerobics and 1 day was water aerobics. Getting in the water at 9 months is AWESOME...I felt light. My 1st delivery was long and strenuous & the doctor told us that he would have had to take my son c-section if I hadn't been in such a good shape. Report