Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy

by NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition
Kinetic Select April 2020


This excerpt briefly explains the benefits of exercise while pregnant.

The following is an exclusive excerpt from the book NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition, published by Human Kinetics. All text and images provided by Human Kinetics.

Most pregnant women who follow their physician’s recommendations can attain maternal health and fitness benefits while subjecting the developing fetus to minimal risk (5). The following are some of the benefits for pregnant women who engage in properly designed prenatal exercise programs (5, 145).

  • Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  • Facilitated recovery from labor
  • Faster return to prepregnancy weight, strength, and flexibility levels
  • Reduced postpartum belly
  • More energy reserve
  • Fewer obstetric interventions
  • Shorter active phase of labor and less pain
  • Less weight gain
  • Improved mood and self-concept
  • Reduced feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Increased likelihood of adopting permanent healthy lifestyle habits

Participation in an exercise program may also reduce the risk of developing conditions associated with pregnancy including preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension) and gestational diabetes mellitus (a form of diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy) (44, 145). It appears that the physiological and psychological benefits associated with regular physical activity may play a role in reducing the risk of preeclampsia (145). Moreover, the favorable effects of regular physical activity on insulin secretion, insulin sensitivity, and glucose metabolism may improve glucose tolerance and thereby reduce a women’s risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus. Exercise training may also be beneficial in preventing or treating other conditions including low back pain, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, pregnancy-related urinary incontinence, and chronic musculoskeletal conditions (145). In the absence of either medical or obstetric complications, exercise during pregnancy appears to be associated with many of the physical and psychosocial health benefits typically observed in nonpregnant women.

NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition, is the authoritative text for personal trainers, health and fitness instructors, and other fitness professionals, as well as the primary preparation source for those taking the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Personal Trainer® (NSCA-CPT®) exam. The book is available in bookstores everywhere, as well as online at the NSCA Store.

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