Kim Kardashian, who literally makes money for existing, has set the Internet abuzz once again with questions about her fitness routine. Specifically: Is the mother-to-be pushing herself too hard at the gym? With the help of a lot of speculation, the Daily Mail is reporting that Kim’s daily gym visits, fueled by a supposed fear of gaining weight, could be putting her baby in danger. Of course, the rag doesn’t bother to find out exactly what she’s doing at the gym, but that’s neither here nor there. It still raises a good question: What kinds of exercises are safe for pregnant women?
I took that question to Drexel OB/GYN (and new mom) Ryan Elizabeth Offer. She talked about how working out affects mom and baby, offers exercises she recommends for mothers-to-be and more. As far as I can tell, we should save our concern for Kim’s kid until she’s scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef—hitting the gym every day shouldn’t be an issue for most pregnant women.
How does exercise impact a baby in utero?
Prolonged strenuous activity during pregnancy has been linked to small for gestational age infants and early delivery.
Is it ill-advised to begin working out often during pregnancy if you weren’t a “gym rat” before you became pregnant?
Women who were inactive before pregnancy can start an exercise routine after being evaluated and cleared by their doctor. Certain conditions such as significant heart disease, multiple gestation, risk for preterm delivery, preeclampsia and bleeding are some of the reasons that I would recommend against starting to work out or continuing to work out during pregnancy. Most women, however, should be able to participate in moderate exercise for 30 minutes per day, five to seven days a week.
Are there specific exercises or activities they should avoid during pregnancy?
Activities that put the women at risk for falling or abdominal trauma, like skiing or basketball, should be avoided. After the first trimester, women should avoid exercises that require being in the supine position (on their back). Repetitive lifting should also be avoided, as well as scuba diving.
Are there specific exercises that you’d recommend for pregnant women?
Walking, especially in women who were not exercising before pregnancy. For women who were working out before pregnancy, they can continue what they were doing before conception. I discourage starting any new strenuous activity during pregnancy. Swimming is also a good activity for pregnant women. Swimming is low impact and no risk for joint injury, which pregnant women are at an increased risk for having. In order to gauge the intensity while working out, a good guideline is this: If a women is able to carry on a conversation, her heart rate is not too high.
Are there long-term effects on the child if a woman exercises regularly during pregnancy, positive or negative?
There are no known specific long-term effects on children. On the opposite end of the spectrum, maternal obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy has been linked to large-for-gestational-age (LGA) infants, meaning they’re above the 90th percentile for their gestational age. LGA infants are at an increased risk for being obese during their lifetime.
Does exercise have any effect on labor and delivery?
It will physically and mentally help a women cope with the labor and delivery process. It will also help with her post-partum recovery.