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Pregnancy Exercise Myths

If you’ve been following my work for a while, you’ll know how much I get frustrated by incorrect nutrition advice, especially when it comes to pregnancy.

Well, the same goes for exercise.

Few healthcare providers are up-to-speed about the research behind exercise during pregnancy.

Those that do recommend exercise will typically give very generalized advice, like “walk 20 minutes per day” or “avoid lifting heavy weights” without explaining the rationale behind these statements.

What the evidence says about exercise during pregnancy is much different than what you’ve been told.

This does a disservice to expecting moms, who may reduce or stop exercising for fear of doing harm to their baby, when in fact, there are many benefits.

In my experience, pregnant women will usually do less (not more) exercise unless they are given accurate information.

That’s why I’m thrilled to share my latest interview with Lisa from the Fertility Friday Podcast, where we candidly discuss the topic and clear up common myths about exercise during pregnancy.

(This is the second time I’ve been on her podcast. Catch my first interview on gestational diabetes & preconception nutrition here.)

In case you’re wondering why I have expertise on the topic of exercise during pregnancy, I’ve had a unique opportunity to teach Pilates to pregnant and postpartum moms, work clinically in perinatology (in other words, I counseled women with high-risk pregnancies), and also help shape public policy on the matter with the California Diabetes and Pregnancy Program: Sweet Success.

Let’s just say, each angle that I’ve viewed the topic has helped me see it in a different light and hopefully you’ll find my perspective helpful as you sort through pregnancy exercise myths on your own.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • What are the benefits of exercising during pregnancy for mom?
  • How does exercise benefit the baby?
  • What are the best exercises that women can do during pregnancy?
  • Is it possible to “over-exercise”?
  • The implications of exercising solely for the purpose of getting back that “perfect” pre-pregnancy body
  • How to know when you should slow it down
  • How to modify exercises for pregnancy
  • Common pregnancy exercise myths
  • What exercises you should NOT be doing while pregnant
  • Why you can probably do way more than you think!

Listen to the interview on Lisa’s site or get it on iTunes, Episode 25 of the Fertility Friday Podcast.

Before you go, I’d love to hear from you!

Have you been given conflicting advice about exercise during pregnancy? Let me know in the comments below.

UPDATE January 2017: I’ll be teaching a webinar for the CA Diabetes and Pregnancy Program on January 18th, 2017 entitled: “Exercise and the Management of Diabetes During Pregnancy.”  If you’re interested in attending, register here. (psst – it’s free and many healthcare providers are eligible for continuing education credits.)

Until next week,


PS – Curious if it’s safe to do Pilates during pregnancy? I’ve got your answer here.

PPS – There’s an entire video module devoted to the topic in the Real Food for Gestational Diabetes Course, which not only covers the nitty gritty research on pregnancy exercise, but also includes Pilates-based exercise videos I recorded while I was pregnant.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Real Food for Gestational Diabetes Course Exercise in Pregnancy and Pregnancy Pilates Videos


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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


Leave a comment
  1. Do you have a blog about menstruation as well? What types of foods to eat and when to exercise?

    • Not yet. Great idea, Cassie. 🙂

    • Would love to see something on this as well. Or diet and fertility!

  2. Great tips and such sensible, practical advice – thanks!

    • Glad you enjoyed the interview, Elizabeth!

  3. I kept up lifting weights in pregnancy and was told it would make the birth much more difficult (insert eye roll).

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