Benefits of exercise during late pregnancy

January 23rd, 2010  |  Published in Pregnancy and postpartum, Stumpblog  |  5 Comments

Author of New Rules of Lifting for Women Cassandra Forsythe is blogging about her pregnancy. Her post on her blog at 30 weeks reports that she’s feeling good and strong!


She writes:

All you pregnant ladies out there: we’re learning each and every day how and why training during your pregnancy is so good for you AND your baby (NOTE: this information comes from one of the most prominent pregnancy and exercise researchers, Dr James Clapp III, who has studied many pregnant competitive Olympic athletes):

  • you accumulate less body fat
  • you have a positive sense of well-being and vigor when you might tend to be pessimistic, depressed or lethargic
  • you have a reduced incidence of upper respiratory tract infections (colds, sinusitis, etc)
  • you’ll tend to have an easier, shorter and less complicated labour
  • you can actually IMPROVE your fitness level and physical performance (I can attest to that!)
  • your baby has developed an improved tolerance to stress and as such, can handle the stress of labour much better than a baby of a sedentary woman (i.e., fewer drops in heart rate with each contraction)
  • your baby has less body fat, but is still able to maintain it’s body temperature
  • your baby will most likely be more mature at birth, meaning, they respond readily to environmental cues and will self-quiet themselves if disturbed when napping
  • your baby will also be a better sleeper (less likely to wake easily)
  • your baby will probably perform better on standardized intelligence tests as they advance in age
  • your baby will grow to be a less-fat adult (which is great news in our society of excess overweightness)

If you missed Cassandra’s excellent podcast on training and pregnancy (and other woman-related issues), see here.


  1. Zsuzsa says:

    January 23rd, 2010at 5:52 pm(#)

    I’ve heard that anaerobic training restricts air flow to the baby and it is bad for it if you do a lot of jumping around because it gets “shaken” or something. I still can’t get past these, but I assume they are just old wives’ tales. Or not?

  2. Sarah says:

    January 23rd, 2010at 10:47 pm(#)

    Definitely old wives tales – I didn’t try to build muscle while I was pregnant but I did keep up the strength I had (after the first trimester, which I slept through). I dropped my squats down to about 75% because I didn’t thoroughly trust my ligaments but aside from that I did all the same stuff. I didn’t have a quick, trouble-free labour – in fact I had a labour from hell with a posterior-facing, nearly 9 lb baby with her arm above her head that lasted about 36 hours. (I’m 5’0″ and should not have married that 6’1″ dude with a huge head.) But I was able to avoid a c-section and my strong muscles helped me keep the pushing to just an hour.

  3. KAW says:

    January 28th, 2010at 2:33 pm(#)

    Restricted air flow? Hmmm, maybe that explains The Boy’s attraction to Pokemon. (I just don’t get it…)

    I lifted relatively normally until about 30 weeks, although I didn’t push myself as hard to complete sets or lift as close to max as I would have sans pregnancy.

    At around 30 weeks I started trimming exercises, some of which (in retrospect) didn’t need to be part of my routine anyway. Fer instance, I stopped doing T-bar row after I rolled off the damned thing. Much to the amusement of the 40+ undergraduate men in the gym at the time, I might add.

  4. Leela says:

    February 24th, 2010at 9:55 pm(#)

    I did Crossfit Mom workouts through most of my pregnancy, with a break between 7.5 months and a few days before I went into labor – my pre-labor burst of energy didn’t manifest itself in a bout of cleaning, but in a sudden need to do squats and wall pushups. I also taught bellydance classes until 6.5 months, and performed a handful of times while pregnant, including one very slow, careful performance at 7 months. My labor was 12 hours from the first contraction to her on my chest, nursing. The midwife said her umbilical cord was the thickest one she’d ever seen, and the placenta was huge from all the oxygen (I’m guessing). She was 9.5 pounds, and yes, she sleeps really well and seems to be really strong. She was holding her head up almost immediately. Working out while pregnant is awesome!

    And, I have to say, I think the best thing women can do is get into the best shape of their lives, BEFORE getting pregnant. It makes such a difference to be strong.

  5. Krista W. says:

    April 8th, 2010at 3:41 pm(#)

    You are so right on! I just had my third daughter four weeks ago and am back at the weights this week, feeling great. I’ve lifted for eight years and continued to lift at about 30% effort throughout my pregnancy. Even though it’s been 10 years since my last birth and I was “advanced maternal age”, my labor was 2.5 hours and only required 4 pushes (my previous labors were 28 and 10 hrs with no weightlifting during pregnancy). My recovery has been really fast, my baby sleeps better than my other two did, and I only have five pounds left to be at my pre-pregnancy weight. I am convinced that the regular weighttraining made this pregnancy and birth so smooth.

    So keep at it you weightlifting Mamas!

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