Is It Safe To Exercise While Pregnant

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Last updated: March 2022

Last reviewed: December 2021

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Pregnancy and exercise: Getting the OK

Make sure your health care providers are on board before starting an exercise program. Even though exercise is generally beneficial for both the mother and the unborn child while pregnant, the following conditions may prevent you from exercising:

  • Some forms of heart and lung disease
  • Preeclampsia or high blood pressure that develops for the first time during pregnancy
  • Cervical problems
  • Persistent vaginal bleeding during the second or third trimester
  • Placenta problems
  • If you have any of the following additional complications, exercising during pregnancy may not be safe for you:

  • Preterm labor during your current pregnancy
  • A multiple pregnancy at risk of preterm labor
  • Premature rupture of the membranes
  • Severe anemia
  • The majority of the time, if not every day of the week, moderate-intensity exercise is advised for pregnant women.

    Walking is a great exercise for beginners. It moderately strengthens your heart and lungs while putting little strain on your joints. Swimming, low-impact aerobics, and stationary cycling are additional beneficial options. Additionally, strength training is acceptable as long as you stick to using light weights.

    Remember to warm up, stretch and cool down. Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids, and watch out for overheating.

    Intense exercise increases blood and oxygen flow to the muscles and decreases uterine blood flow. Generally speaking, you should be able to converse while exercising. If you find it difficult to speak while exercising, you’re probably pushing yourself too hard.

    Depending on your fitness level, consider these guidelines:

  • You havent exercised for a while. Begin with as little as 10 minutes of physical activity a day. Build up to 15 minutes, 20 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 youre pregnant — as long as youre feeling comfortable and your health care provider says its OK.
  • Consult your doctor if you’re unsure whether a certain activity is safe for you to do while pregnant. 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
  • Other activities to avoid include:

  • Exercise at high altitude
  • Activities that could cause you to experience direct trauma to the abdomen, such as kickboxing
  • Hot yoga or hot Pilates
  • Make sure you are aware of the warning signs and symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, fatigue, and nausea, before engaging in any high-altitude exercise. If you begin to experience symptoms of altitude sickness, descend to a lower elevation right away and get medical attention.

    If your exercise program involves activities you enjoy and fits into your daily schedule, you’re more likely to stick with it. Consider these simple tips:

  • Start small. You dont 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.
  • In addition to exercising, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for any potential problems. If you have: Stop exercising and get in touch with your doctor.

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Increased shortness of breath before you start exercising
  • Chest pain
  • Other warning signs to watch for include:

  • Painful uterine contractions that continue after rest
  • Fluid leaking or gushing from your vagina
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Muscle weakness affecting balance
  • Regular exercise can help you prepare for the challenges ahead by coping with the physical changes brought on by pregnancy. Use your impending pregnancy as motivation to start exercising if you haven’t been doing so already.

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    What Pregnancy Changes May Affect Exercise?

    Physical changes during pregnancy create extra demands on your body. Remember to pay attention to your body and make any necessary adjustments to your activities or exercise routine while keeping in mind the changes listed below.

  • Your developing baby and other internal changes require more oxygen and energy.
  • Hormones produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to stretch, increasing the risk of injury.
  • The extra weight and the uneven distribution of your weight shift your center of gravity. The extra weight also puts stress on joints and muscles in the lower back and pelvic area and makes it easier for you to lose your balance.
  • Stop exercising and consult your health care provider if you:

  • Feel chest pain.
  • Have abdominal pain, pelvic pain, or persistent contractions.
  • Have a headache.
  • Notice an absence or decrease in fetal movement.
  • Feel faint, dizzy, nauseated, or light-headed.
  • Feel cold or clammy.
  • Have vaginal bleeding.
  • Have a sudden gush of fluid from the vagina or a trickle of fluid that leaks steadily.
  • Notice an irregular or rapid heartbeat.
  • Have sudden swelling in your ankles, hands, or face, or calf pain.
  • Are short of breath.
  • Have difficulty walking.
  • Have muscle weakness.
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