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Health Tips & TopicsGeneral

Exercising While You Are Pregnant

Exercise has many benefits during pregnancy. It can help relieve aches and pains, reduce constipation, strengthen joints, improve sleep and prepare you mentally and physically for labor and delivery, and recovery.

For almost all women, exercise is safe throughout pregnancy. However, you should always discuss exercising with your doctor before you start. If your pregnancy is high-risk, including pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, early contractions, vaginal bleeding, or are at risk of miscarriage or premature birth, your doctor may advise you to limit or avoid exercise.

If your doctor has cleared you to exercise during your pregnancy, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. Examples include walking, swimming, and aerobic dancing. You should stop exercising if you feel fatigue, lightheadedness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or back or pelvic pain. You should be able to talk while you are exercising.

Avoid becoming overheated by not overdoing it on hot days. Avoid exercising outside from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during hot months.

Certain exercises, including contact sports, downhill skiing, and horseback riding, should be avoided because of the risk of injury. Scuba diving is not safe in pregnancy and must be avoided. Also avoid activities that include bouncing, jarring, sudden changes in direction, and risk of abdominal injury. Avoid or modify exercises done on your back such as sit-ups and some types of yoga. These exercises may be uncomfortable. They can also limit blood flow to your baby.