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How safe is rigorous exercise during pregnancy?

Much has been written about the pregnant Illinois woman who ran a marathon on the same day as giving birth. (It's an amazing story to me; the only place I would have been willing to run to on my delivery day was the anesthesiologist’s office - to demand an epidural!) On today, writer Bonnie Rochman addresses whether that type of physical activity is safe for pregnant women, and she gets insight from Jim Pivarnik, PhD, a professor of epidemiology and kinesiology at Michigan State University and an expert on pregnancy and exercise:

Q: Is what [this mother] did irresponsible?

A: This was O.K. for her. She was training that kind of mileage all the way to 38 weeks. She only ran half of it, and her doctor gave her permission. She had no dizziness, bleeding or cramping. It was standard operating procedure for her.

Q: How can a pregnant woman know how much exercise is appropriate?

A: You have to talk to your physician, and she did. You can't give blanket recommendations for highly trained athletes. The only thing you can say is you want to keep doing what you're doing, be in touch with your physician and make sure you have absolutely no symptoms [of preterm labor]. Your body will gradually slow you down, or it won't.


Q: What about exercise for the typical pregnant woman who doesn't feel up to tackling 26.2 miles?

A: U.S. physical activity guidelines call for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for the average American. Pregnant women can do the same thing. If you haven't been doing something more intense, this is not the time to start.

Previously: Pregnant and on the move: The importance of exercise for moms-to-be and Pregnant curler competing in Olympics
Photo by infomatique

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