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  • Dr. Sarah Kaderka

Exercising During Pregnancy: Myths

Navigating the wealth of information about exercising during pregnancy can be overwhelming and often leads to confusion and uncertainty. Here, we debunk five common myths about exercising while pregnant.

Dr. Sarah talking about the muscles of the pelvic floor.

Myth 1: Exercising can lead to miscarriages.

There is no evidence to suggest that activities such as long runs, lifting heavy weights, or high-intensity workouts can lead to a miscarriage. It's natural to feel self-blame when faced with such a tragedy, but it's important to understand that most miscarriages occur due to genetic issues or problems with embryo implantation. Exercise has no impact on the implantation process of the embryo into the uterine wall. Rest assured, exercise does NOT cause miscarriages.

Myth 2: It is not recommended to exercise on your back.

The concern with exercising on your back during pregnancy is related to the potential compression of venous flow to your heart, which can reduce placental blood flow. This condition, known as Clinical Supine Hypotensive Syndrome, can cause symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, or a general feeling of unwellness. Generally, it is recommended not to sleep on your back after 20 weeks of pregnancy due to the risk of venous compression from prolonged lying down. In contrast, most exercises performed on your back only last for short periods. If you do experience symptoms like nausea or dizziness when exercising on your back, it's your body’s way of signaling you to stop or modify the movement. Common modifications include performing the same exercises at an incline or while seated upright. By listening to your body and making appropriate adjustments, you can continue to exercise safely throughout your pregnancy.

Myth 3: Experiencing coning while pregnant can lead to diastasis recti.

Misconceptions about coning and diastasis recti during pregnancy are common. Coning refers to the visible bulging of the abdomen along the midline, indicating that the abdominal muscles are not adequately supporting the internal organs. However, coning itself does not directly cause diastasis recti, which is the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles. In fact, 100% of women experience diastasis recti during pregnancy as the abdominal muscles naturally expand to make room for the growing baby. This is a completely normal occurrence. Coning is simply a sign of abdominal muscle weakness and indicates the need for strengthening. While certain exercises and movements can exacerbate coning and potentially worsen diastasis recti, modifying exercises to avoid excessive abdominal strain can help manage this condition. Strengthening the core through targeted exercises can support abdominal integrity and minimize the effects of diastasis recti.

A pregnant woman squatting a kettlebell.

Myth 4: Avoid lifting weights exceeding 20 pounds.

The research shows that people who lifted heavy weight prior to and during pregnancy have no increased risk of adverse fetal outcomes, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, or gestational diabetes. What this basically means is that lifting heavy weights is actually beneficial for the health of both you and baby!

Myth 5: Make sure your heart rate stays below 150 bpm.

The initial recommendation regarding exercise during pregnancy stemmed from a poorly designed research study conducted long ago. However, recent, higher-quality research has demonstrated the benefits of cardiovascular training for both mothers and babies. When pregnant women engage in cardiovascular exercise and elevate their heart rate, the baby's heart rate also increases, indicating improved cardiac health for both mom and baby. Additionally, this research suggests that women who incorporate cardiovascular training during pregnancy were able to remain pregnant longer and had a reduced risk of premature delivery. As a general guideline, pregnant women are advised to aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Examples of cardiovascular activities include running, swimming, cycling, dancing, hiking, or rowing. Incorporating cardiovascular exercise into your pregnancy routine not only benefits your health but also supports your baby's well-being, making it a win-win for both of you!


Even if you haven’t been active before pregnancy, it's still safe to start exercising now! Staying active during pregnancy can benefit both your health and your baby’s. Rather than categorizing exercises as safe or unsafe, it's important to recognize which activities your body is prepared for, avoiding only contact sports or those with a risk of blunt force trauma to the abdomen. If you have any questions or want to learn more about exercising while pregnant, schedule an appointment at the Health Lab today for personalized guidance!

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