Activities to approach with care

If you're not sure whether a particular activity is safe during pregnancy, check with your health care provider. Also, consider avoiding:

  • Any exercises that force you to lie flat on your back after your first trimester
  • Scuba diving
  • Contact sports, such as ice hockey, soccer and basketball
  • Activities that pose a high risk of falling — such as downhill skiing, gymnastics, water skiing, surfing and horseback riding
  • Exercise at high altitude

If you do exercise at high altitude, make sure you know the signs of altitude sickness, such as headache or insomnia.

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. 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. 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

As important as it is to exercise, it's also important to watch for danger signs. If you have vaginal bleeding, stop exercising and contact your health care provider.

In addition, 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.

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.

July 10, 2013 See more In-depth