Exercise During Pregnancy

Besides keeping you healthy during pregnancy, exercise may decrease some common discomforts such as nausea, mood-swings backaches, bloating, fatigue and constipation! Exercise may also lower your risk of gestational diabetes, depression and the effects of stress on your pregnancy. Exercise is also beneficial in shortening your labor and helping you recover faster from delivery while decreasing your risk of post-partum depression.

Some benefits of exercise.

  • Ease or prevent back pain and other discomforts
  • Boost your mood and energy levels
  • Help you sleep better
  • Prevent excess weight gain
  • Increase stamina and muscle strength

If you were physically active before your pregnancy, you should be able to continue your same exercise activity in moderation throughout your pregnancy. Instead of exercising at the same level, listen to your body and do what's most comfortable for you now. High impact exercises that cause 'jarring' on your joints should be avoided. Low impact aerobics and lots of stretching is highly recommended.

If you have not exercised regularly before your pregnancy, walking regularly is considered safe to initiate. Please talk to us about any new exercise routine you are considering to start during your pregnancy.

For most pregnant women, at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise is recommended on most, if not all, days of the week.

Walking is a great exercise for beginners. It provides moderate aerobic conditioning with minimal stress on your joints. Other good choices include swimming, low-impact aerobics and cycling on a stationary bike. Strength training is OK, too, as long as you avoid lifting very heavy weights.

Remember to warm up and cool down. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and be careful to avoid overheating. In general, you should be able to carry on a conversation while you're exercising. If you can´t speak normally while you're working out, you're probably pushing yourself too hard.

To stay comfortable and cool during exercise, wear loose clothing made out of breathable fabrics; wear a bra that fits and gives you plenty of support; drink plenty of water; and avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day.

  • You haven't exercised for a while. Begin with as little as five minutes of physical activity a day. Build up to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and so on, until you reach at least 30 minutes a day.
  • You exercised before pregnancy. You can probably continue to work out at the same level while you're pregnant — as long as you're feeling comfortable and your health care provider says it's OK.

Staying motivated

You're more likely to stick with an exercise plan if it involves activities you enjoy and fits into your daily schedule. Consider these simple tips:

  • Start small. Just get moving. Try a daily walk through your neighborhood. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or, walk the perimeter of the grocery store a few times.
  • Find a partner. Exercise can be more interesting if you use the time to chat with a friend. Better yet, involve the whole family.
  • Try a class. Many fitness centers and hospitals offer classes, such as prenatal yoga, designed for pregnant women. Choose one that fits your interests and schedule.
  • Get creative. Don't limit yourself. Consider hiking, rowing or dancing.
  • Give yourself permission to rest. Your tolerance for strenuous exercise will probably decrease as your pregnancy progresses.

Listen to your body

Stop exercising if you have:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Uneven or rapid heartbeat
  • Uterine contractions that continue after rest
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Fluid leaking or gushing from your vagina
  • Decreased fetal movement

If your signs and symptoms continue after you stop exercising, contact your health care provider.

If you have a medical concern please talks to us about exercising while you are pregnant.

Exercise is not recommended if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as:

  • Bleeding or spotting
  • Low placenta (low lying or previa)
  • Threatened or recurrent miscarriage
  • Previous premature births or history of early labor
  • Incompetent (weak) Cervix or shortened cervix

Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you exercise with caution and do not overdo it.

The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling, step or elliptical machines, low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor) and prenatal yoga. These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until birth.

Tennis and racquetball are generally safe activities, but changes in balance the second and third trimesters may affect rapid movements and reflexes. Other activities such as jogging can be continued in moderation, especially if you were doing them before your pregnancy. You may want to choose exercises or activities that do not require great balance or coordination, especially in your third trimester.

Do not forget your kegel exercises while you're pregnant! Regular Kegel practice can help make for an easier birth because they help you to better learn how to control the muscles used during labor and delivery and they are super important for post-partum recovery.

Activities that are considered not safe during pregnancy are:

  • Activities where falling is likely (such as skiing, mountain/road bike riding and horseback riding).
  • Contact sports such as softball, football, basketball, and volleyball.
  • Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma such as activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in direction.
  • Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing, or running.
  • Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises, and straight-leg toe touches.
  • Bouncing while stretching.
  • Waist-twisting movements while standing.
  • Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity.
  • Exercise in hot, humid weather.





Common Complaints and Ways to Limit Them

Exhaustion: Exercise early in the day, before you feel wiped out. It may help to divide your workout into short sessions throughout the day.

Nausea: Notice what time of day your nausea hits hardest and avoid exercising at that time. Avoid working out on an empty stomach and make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

Swollen feet and Ankles: Exercise early in the day, before the swelling becomes prohibitive. Buy athletic shoes a size larger than you would normally wear. Remember - the pregnancy hormones relax your ligaments allowing your feet to increase in size, this is aided by the increase in water you are also retaining. If possible, try swimming or the recumbent bike instead of walking. Take a tub bath in the evening with a ½ cup of Epson salt to decrease the swelling.

Back Aches: Stretch your lower back with the Mad Cat move - Get down on your hands and knees, wrists directly under your shoulders. Slowly round your back as you exhale slowly through your nose. Next, inhale slowly as you arch your back while tilting your pelvis upward and moving your belly toward the ground.

Feeling Big and Heavy: Remember that pregnant women are beautiful! If you are having an off day or week, treat yourself to cute maternity workout clothes, a facial, prenatal massage, mani-pedi, or simply remind yourself of all that you are doing for your health and that of your baby.

Boredom: Inject some variety into your work-outs, ask a friend to join you, join a group exercise class, download some new music, take your family along, or hire a personal trainer to keep you committed and your workout interesting. 

It is important to make sure you are getting enough rest during pregnancy. ACOG recommends that you get 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night.