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.
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:
- 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
- Artal R. Recommendations for exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 19, 2013.
- Artal R. Anatomical and physiological changes of pregnancy and exercise. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 19, 2013.
- Kalisiak B, et al. What effect does an exercise program for healthy pregnant women have on the mother, fetus, and child? PM&R. 2009;1:261.
- Duncombe D, et al. Factors related to exercise over the course of pregnancy including women's beliefs about the safety of exercise during pregnancy. Midwifery. 2009;25:430.
- Olson D, et al. Exercise in pregnancy. Current Sorts Medicine Reports. 2009;8:147.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/PAGUIDELINES/guidelines/default.aspx. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2010:1.
- Robinson JN, et al. Risk factors for preterm labor and delivery. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 24, 2013.
- Harms RW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 24, 2013.
- Barakat R, et al. Exercise during pregnancy and gestational diabetes-related adverse effects: A randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Sports Medicine. In press. Accessed April 24, 2013.