Lack Of Exercise During Pregnancy

Lack of exercise during pregnancy can have a negative impact on the health of mother and baby. Exercise increases the amount of oxygen that passes from the mother’s lungs to her bloodstream and to her uterus, which helps increase blood flow to the fetus and also reduces stress on the body. It also helps maintain muscle tone and prevents body fat gain during pregnancy so you lose some weight after delivering.

Physical inactivity is among the top five reasons women die young. Exercise provides an essential component for a healthy and long life. In pregnancy, exercise lowers one’s risk for a range of pregnancy complications, improves a woman’s overall health and helps with postpartum recovery. 

Studies showed physical inactivity during pregnancy can cause maternal obesity and creates a higher risk for preterm birth, emergency cesarean delivery and preeclampsia. Sedentary pregnant patients are also more likely to develop gestational diabetes mellitus, a condition where hormones from the placenta prevent the body from effectively using insulin. GDM, while manageable, increases one’s risk of a cesarean birth, serious breathing difficulties and developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.  

Additionally, the United States has seen a growing problem of obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy, leading to severe health risks for mother and fetus, even with strong recommendations from ACOG to exercise during pregnancy. In a study, Gould evaluated why many pregnant women were not meeting exercise guidelines and obstetricians’ beliefs and recommendations regarding exercise during pregnancy. 

Exercise is a known way to combat the obesity and excessive weight gain epidemic, but surveys showed many providers were not providing adequate and thorough exercise recommendations to their patients,” Gould said. “While following guidelines, most providers advised patients with uncomplicated pregnancies to continue their current workout routines. This advice did not account for many pregnant women, especially those who are overweight, who did not have consistent healthy habits pre-pregnancy.”

Physical activity not only lowers risk of pregnancy complications, but also helps women adjust to the numerous physiological changes their bodies undergo in pregnancy. More than 60 percent of pregnant patients experience back pain due to weight gain and increased pressure on joints and the spine. Strengthening abdominal and back muscles through exercise can mitigate the pain. Women also experience respiratory changes while pregnant. Being able to provide ample oxygen to the fetus is important for a healthy pregnancy. Aerobic training throughout pregnancy can increase aerobic capacity in pregnant women and improve oxygen levels.

While exercise is beneficial for pregnant women and poses minimal risks, ACOG also recommends providers evaluate patients to establish an exercise routine and ensure there is not a medical reason to avoid exercise. Exercise in Pregnancy participants will receive a clinical evaluation, including a four-dimensional ultrasound and fitness testing

Walking is a great way to get moving during pregnancy, and it also helps to ward off muscle fatigue and reduce aches and swelling. Studies suggest that women who don’t exercise during the last two trimesters of pregnancy face an increased risk of preterm birth and giving birth to a baby that weighs less than 5 pounds, 10 ounces at birth. Exercise during pregnancy is crucial for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Studies have shown that not exercising during pregnancy leads to heavier babies and increases the risk of complications.

Pregnant women need to exercise during pregnancy to stay healthy, be fit and lose weight. Walking is a great way to get started and keeps you moving without stressing your body. Exercise during pregnancy is not only safe for you and your baby, it may also help prevent certain pregnancy complications. An exercise routine can increase energy and improve sleep. Regular exercise also keeps your weight within a healthy range and improves cardiovascular fitness.

When you’re pregnant, it’s even more important to get the exercise that you need. In fact, in the first trimester of pregnancy especially, strength training can help control weight gain and improve your posture. Physically active women have less chance of needing a cesarean delivery and giving birth prematurely. To make sure you stay fit while pregnant, consult your ob/gyn before starting any new exercise routine so he or she can provide appropriate advice on how to modify your workouts as needed.

Does Lack Of Exercise Cause Miscarriage

Exercise does not cause miscarriage. Exercise during pregnancy, and before pregnancy, can improve your physical fitness and help you feel better. It also helps you prepare for labor and delivery by strengthening your muscles, increasing your endurance, improving your balance and coordination, and maintaining a healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Exercise may reduce the risk of excessive weight gain during pregnancy by keeping you more physically active than if you didn’t exercise. However, extreme exercise and overtraining should be avoided throughout pregnancy because both have been associated with miscarriage.

During pregnancy, exercise is even more important, since it helps keep both you and your baby healthy. A lack of exercise can be linked to many pregnancy-related problems for both you and your baby.

Time Frame

Ideally, you should be at a healthy weight and in good shape before you get pregnant.

However, even if you have not exercised before getting pregnant, you should start as soon as possible.

You will just need to start slowly, and follow the advice of your doctor. Start by exercising two to three times a week, and build up to four or more times per week once you are ready.


A lack of exercise during pregnancy puts you at risk for complications, such as increased pulse rate and blood pressure, and puts you at an additional risk for developing gestational diabetes. These all can affect not only your health, but also the health of your unborn child.

A lack of exercise during pregnancy also makes it more likely you will gain too much weight during these nine months, making it harder to return to a healthy weight once the baby is born. You may also experience more heartburn and digestion problems.


Although you should not avoid exercise completely during pregnancy, there are certain activities you should stay away from. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, stay away from activities that involve bouncing, jumping or sudden changes of direction. For this reason, horseback riding, contact sports and downhill skiing are not considered safe. Also avoid any exercise that requires you to lay on your back after your first trimester.


Some women avoid exercise during pregnancy because they fear it will cause a miscarriage. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this is not true. It is also not true that you should not lift weights, or anything heavy.

Not only is it safe, but lifting weights may help prepare your body for labor and delivery. Abdominal exercises are also safe, though you should avoid lying flat on your back after the first trimester.

You also do not need to worry about exercise causing pre-term labor. Your body will not go into labor until you — and the baby — are ready. The old guideline that pregnant women should keep their heart rate under 140 beats per minute has also been disproved — the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists eliminated that guideline in the 1990s and now suggests that pregnant women should exercise at a comfortable pace.


Stop exercising and contact your doctor if you experience vaginal bleeding, unusual pain, are dizzy, experiencing premature contractions or if you are leaking any kind of fluid.

Consult with your doctor or midwife before beginning any exercise program, since some medical conditions can cause exercise to do more harm than good. Your doctor may also wish to place restrictions on the types or amount of exercise that you do.

Yes, lack of exercise may cause miscarraige. In general, a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of miscarriage. As an expectant mother, it is very important that you stay flexible and active during your pregnancy. According to a recent study, lack of exercise may cause miscarriage. If women exercise regularly, not only will their health improve but also their bodies become healthier and more prepared for labor; but it is not so easy for them to get back into shape after the birth of a child. A lack of exercise can cause miscarriage. If a woman is extremely active and at the same time has fertility issues, gaining weight, or has been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), then her baby will be at risk for miscarriage. A lack of exercise can also increase the risk for preeclampsia or worsen chronic hypertension.

When you think of miscarriage, you may assume that exercise has nothing to do with it. But recent studies have found that women who exercise at least three times a week may reduce their risk of miscarriage by as much as 50 percent. One theory is that exercise helps the body rebuild itself after pregnancy, but more research is needed.” Exercise is a must if you are pregnant. It can help reduce back pain and help prevent miscarriage. It can also support the baby’s growth and development by increasing oxygen intake, lowering stress levels, and generally making you feel better. Lack of exercise during pregnancy may lead to complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and postpartum depression

1.A lack of exercise will cause miscarriage.

2. Exercise is important to a healthy mother and fetus,

3. A woman’s regular fitness routine — such as jogging or swimming — can help prevent miscarriage, according to one study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Effects Of Lack Of Exercise During Pregnancy

If you do little or no exercise during pregnancy, your baby is at risk of being born prematurely and/or with low birth weight. In addition, infants born prematurely and/or with low birth weights have higher rates of neurological problems, such as cerebral palsy, blindness and learning disabilities. One of the more important things to avoid during pregnancy is lack of exercise. Lack of exercise leads to fat accumulation and the risk of insulin resistance is increased. Insulin resistance prevents the body from responding efficiently to glycogen metabolism. When there is not enough glucose circulating in your body, your cells will have to rely on other sources of fuel called free fatty acids which can cause cell damage, inflammation, and even death of healthy cells.

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)

Exercising during pregnancyExercise is protective against the most common complication of pregnancy, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Training large muscle groups have been shown to help normalise blood sugar levels through improving glucose utilisation and insulin sensitivity. Women who exercise during pregnancy are significantly less likely to develop GDM than those who are physically inactive.  This effect is particularly strong in women who are physically active for at least one year before becoming pregnant and then continue exercising during pregnancy.

More information on Exercise before Pregnancy.


The risk of preeclampsia is significantly reduced in women who exercise during pregnancy compared to inactive women. This effect is strengthened in women who are physically active before as well as during their pregnancy.

Mode of delivery

There tends to be a lower rate of caesarean delivery among exercising women.

Exercise outcomes on birth weight and foetal growth

Image courtesy of Blausen Medical Communications. Contact Andrew Walbank.

There is evidence that maternal exercise may reduce birth weight of the infant but studies suggest that this effect is minor and not associated with adverse outcomes for the infant. Exercise in pregnancy is associated with a decrease in offspring that are significantly small for gestational age (SGA). SGA means that for the time spent in gestation (the gestational age) the infant is in the smallest 10% for all infants born at that age and that sex. So while there may be trends that indicate that exercising during pregnancy decreases the birth weight of offspring, this is not significant or harmful as exercise reduces the risk of an offspring being significantly small.

It is important to recognise that birth weight is not the only indicator of impaired foetal growth. There are other indicators that can be measured to fully assess whether the infant has grown optimally during pregnancy. Small abdominal circumference is directly correlated to a small liver and can also be related to high cholesterol levels in later life. Small head circumference is directly correlated with small brain size and accordingly an impaired IQ. Small head circumference can also indicate that the baby will grow to exhibit high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart disease and impaired glucose tolerance. No negative effect of exercise on these measures of foetal growth has been identified but further research into this area is necessary.

The birth weight of the child is affected less by exercising during pregnancy than the mother’s body mass index (BMI). Overweight and obese women are more likely to have babies with a large infant birth weight. Women who exercise are less likely to have larger babies. Therefore exercise in pregnancy may elicit a “protective” effect against offspring that are identified as large for gestational age (LGA).  LGA means that for the time spent in gestation the infant is in the largest 90% for all infants born at that age and sex.

Obesity and pregnancy

Exercising during pregnancyMaternal obesity and overweight is an increasingly prevalent issue due to excessive weight gain during pregnancy and mothers retaining this weight for up to and over 6 months after the baby is born. This risk is increased in women who have previously retained weight after pregnancies. Gaining excessive weight during pregnancy is defined as putting on 10% or more than the original body weight before the pregnancy. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension (preeclampsia) and GDM. Maternal overweight and obesity is a large indicator of obesity later in life for the infant and for the mother. Furthermore, foetal distress is twice as likely for the infants of obese women than those of a normal weight.

More information on Health Risks of Overnutrition in Pregnancy.

Exercise can be used to combat excessive weight gain with the help of your doctor who may prescribe a safe exercise regime to adopt during pregnancy. In order to reduce excessive weight gain your doctor will suggest aerobic exercises that utilise a large number of muscle groups, if this is believed to be safe for you and your baby. Aerobic exercises that do not pose any risks during low risk pregnancies include walking, stationary cycling, aquatic exercise or low impact aerobics around 3 to 4 times a week.

More information on How Much Weight to Gain during Pregnancy.

Psychological benefits of exercise during pregnancy

Studies have identified that women who keep fit during pregnancy are more relaxed and therefore cope better with the emotional and physiological strains of pregnancy, including the demands of labour. Women who exercise have a better sense of wellbeing due to a number of positive effects from exercise such as greater weight control, better body image and self-esteem, improved sleep and increased energy levels. It is believed that this positive effect on mental health continues after pregnancy and may decrease the incidence of postnatal depression.

Physiological benefits of exercise during pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancyEvidence has shown that women who exercise have:

  • Increased cardiovascular and muscular fitness and strength;
  • Improved posture due to increased abdominal and upper body strength;
  • Improved circulation which reduces the incidence of varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis;
  • Reduced constipationbloating and swelling;
  • Lower incidence of back pain;
  • A greater chance of experiencing easier deliveries with less medical interventions; and
  • Healthier babies.

The benefits are also maintained after birth with some women reporting improved sporting performance in the months immediately following birth. This is thought to be related to the increased respiratory volume, cardiac output and blood volume that occur during pregnancy which is accompanied by improved oxygen capacity.

Risks of exercise during pregnancy

While exercise has been established as a safe practice for women who are pregnant, there are risks that can make it dangerous for some women with particular medical conditions.

Firstly, the hormones stimulated during pregnancy have the potential to induce premature contractions, although the actual risk of this event has not been investigated. Exercise also causes blood to be redistributed from internal organs to skeletal muscle and as a result there is a significant reduction in oxygen and nutrient delivery to the placenta.

Potential mechanisms behind why exercise during pregnancy can be a risk have been identified, yet there have been no studies that have shown these have a significant effect on foetal wellbeing. The major concerns include:

  • Premature contractions can potentially be induced by the hormones that are stimulated by exercise;
  • Increased glucose consumption from working muscles could affect foetal glucose levels;
  • Exercise causes blood to be redistributed from internal organs to skeletal muscle and as a result there is a significant transient reduction in oxygen and nutrient delivery to the placental site;  and
  • Overheating will challenge maternal thermoregulation and is best avoided, especially in the first trimester. Therefore participating in vigorous exercise in high temperature environments throughout pregnancy should be avoided.

More information on Safety Considerations when Exercising during Pregnancy.

Contraindications for exercise during pregnancy

Exercising during pregnancyMedical conditions may heighten the potential dangers of exercising for some women, and in these cases exercise should be avoided. These include women with:

  • Heart disease;
  • Restrictive lung disease – a lung condition which impairs the function of the lung so that it is restricted in expansion while breathing. This results in reduced lung function as breathing and ventilation is restricted;
  • Incompetent cervix – a medical condition in which the cervix begins to dilate before the full term of the pregnancy;
  • Premature labour;
  • Premature ruptured membranes – after the water breaks;
  • Preeclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension;
  • Persistent second or third trimester bleeding; and
  • Placenta praevia – a complication during pregnancy when the umbilical cord is attached to the uterine wall and it is close to or even covering the cervix.

Health risks that can result from becoming a couch potato during pregnancy include gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes, which affects about 5% of pregnant women, is a condition that causes high blood sugar levels in the mother but not her baby. Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition of increased blood pressure and excess protein in the urine that can cause organ damage and health problems for you and your baby

If you are not exercising regularly during your pregnancy, you are missing an opportunity to help reduce pregnancy-related symptoms, reduce stress levels and make going into labor easier. Exercise also helps keep tone in your pelvic floor muscles, including the bladder, uterus and rectum. Pregnant women who are not physically active are at risk of gestational diabetes and developing other pregnancy complications.

If you are not physically active during pregnancy, you could increase your risk for gestational diabetes, miscarriage and pregnancy complications. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Is It Bad To Not Exercise While Pregnant

Exercising while pregnant is not only good for you and your baby, it also provides benefits to you and your baby. While it’s a normal thing to be afraid of hurting your baby, the truth is that exercising during pregnancy has many benefits. In fact, exercising can improve the production of breast milk and increase energy levels.

Exercise is a key component of a healthy pregnancy and postpartum period. But, like everything else during pregnancy, not all exercise is created equal. That’s why it’s crucial that you only do the right types of exercise while pregnant — namely aerobic and strength training. How much exercise should pregnant women do? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) “recommends that pregnant women do 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity on most, if not all, days to receive the beneficial effects of time spent exercising.” There are certain considerations for pregnant women who decide to workout while they are pregnant. Since you might not feel as comfortable in your own body as you did before pregnancy, swelling may occur or you could suffer from joint pain as your body adjusts to its new shape.” Exercise during pregnancy is safe, healthy and beneficial for both you and your baby. It will help you maintain a healthy weight, which can help prevent complications like gestational diabetes and high blood pressure; it also helps with labor, delivery and recovery.

Exercising is great for expectant mothers, as it helps to keep baby healthy. A healthy fetus grows into a healthy infant and toddler. You can exercise throughout your pregnancy as long as you feel comfortable and avoid activities that could cause injury. Warming up before a workout is important, so stretching before you start should come first.

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