Activities to approach with care
If you're not sure whether a particular activity is safe during pregnancy, check with your health care provider. Consider avoiding:
- Any exercises that force you to lie flat on your back after your first trimester
- Scuba diving, which could put your baby at risk of decompression sickness
- Contact sports, such as ice hockey, soccer, basketball and volleyball
- Activities that pose a high risk of falling — such as downhill skiing, in-line skating, gymnastics, and horseback riding
- Activities that could cause you to hit water with great force, such as water skiing, surfing and diving
- Exercise at high altitude
- Activities that could cause you to experience direct trauma to the abdomen, such as kickboxing
- Hot yoga or hot Pilates
If you do exercise at a high altitude, make sure you know the signs and symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache and nausea.
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. You don't need to join a gym or wear expensive workout clothes to get in shape. Just get moving. Try a daily walk through your neighborhood or walk the perimeter of the grocery store a few times. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- 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.
Listen to your body
As important as it is to exercise, it's also important to watch for signs of a problem. Stop exercising and contact your health care provider if you have:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Increased shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Uneven or rapid heartbeat
- Uterine contractions that continue after rest
- Fluid leaking or gushing from your vagina
- Decreased fetal movement
- Calf pain or swelling
- Muscle weakness affecting balance
A healthy choice
Regular exercise can help you cope with the physical changes of pregnancy and build stamina for the challenges ahead. If you haven't been exercising regularly, use pregnancy as your motivation to begin.
June 09, 2016
See more In-depth
- Artal R. Exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period: Practical recommendations. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 24, 2016.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/PAGUIDELINES/guidelines/default.aspx. Accessed May 24, 2016.
- Barakat R, et al. Exercise during pregnancy and gestational diabetes-related adverse effects: A randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2013;47:630.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month. 6th ed. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2015.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Obstetric Practice. Committee Opinion No. 650: Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2015;126:e135.