Exercise in pregnancy

Pregnant women on tredmill brisk walkingExercise is pregnancy is recommended for the health of the mother and baby. As long as there are no obstetrical of medical conditions women can maintain a healthy exercise routine. It is recommended that pregnant women get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercises on most days.

The benefits of exercise include a positive self-image, psychological state, improved bowel function, weight control and management and improved joint flexibility and have a positive effect on the pregnancy c with lower rates of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and less depression.

Women that have been exercising proper in pregnancy may continue their customary regimen cautiously unless there are specific risks to the activity or to the pregnancy. Many of the safe exercise include non weight-bearing exercise such as swimming, prenatal yoga, and stationary cycling, walking some low-impact aerobics.

Drink enough water when you are exercising 

You need to be extra careful that you are replacing all fluids lost through perspiration during exercise when you are pregnant. Be sure to drink water before, during and after exercising.


Swimming is an excellent form of exercise during pregnancy because it is low impact and involves a tremendous amount of stretching. Simply being immersed in the water can also be a relief when you are feeling tired or stiff. Many health clubs and community centers are now offering swimming classes specifically for pregnant women, which can be a fun way to get started.

Strength Training

Strength training with low weights can be beneficial to you during pregnancy, as long as you have cleared your routine with your doctor. Obviously, you will need to avoid specific muscle groups such as the abdomen. And remember that the goal during pregnancy should be to create and maintain muscle tone, not to build muscle mass.


Avoid high intensity and high impact exercise for sustained periods of time can interfere with the blood flow seen as a decrease in the uterus and affect the growing baby.

Some cautions are participating in sports or exercising that cause a rapid change in direction, balance and muscular strength, especially if the women in in her 2nd and 3rd trimester where her own center of gravity is shifting and can be easily injured.

Avoid sports and exercise where there is a risk for blunt trauma, such as hockey, soccer, downhill skiing, water skiing, ice skating, rock climbing. What is concerning about blunt trauma is that the women will often not fell any injuries, but there can be injury to the placenta, which will impact the blood flow to the developing baby.

Never exercise on an empty stomach – It is very important that pregnant women never exercise on an empty stomach; doing so can lead to fainting and low blood sugar. Eating a small snack within an hour of exercising will help you to feel better while you exercise and afterwards.


If you are an experienced runner than the recommendation is that you decrease the mileage to avoid hyperthermia and dehydration and consider brisk-walking as a healthy alternative.

Avoid exercise while lying down on your back in the 2nd and 3rd timester. In this position the weight of the baby is directly on top one of you major vessels which will impact your heart and the blood supply going to your baby.

Absolute contraindications are activities that can cause a change in altitudes such as scuba diving and hiking at high altitudes in pregnancy.

Tips for exercising in pregnancyPregnant women gentle exercise with dumbells

  • Start off slow and gradually increase your activity level
  • Wear proper clothing that allows for heat loss to avoid hyperthermia
  • Wear a supportive bra
  • Wear correct footwear
  • Exercising in an area with an even surface
  • Drink adequate water at least 8-10 glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration
  • Increase your carbohydrate intake to meet the needs of the growing baby
  • Avoid exercising in extreme heat or humid conditions

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you experience:

          • Vaginal bleeding or fluid loss
          • Contractions
          • Severe shortness of breath
          • Abdominal pain
          • Chest pain
          • Headache
          • Dizziness or feeling faint
          • Heart palpitations
          • Swelling of the face, hands or feet
          • Calf pain or swelling
          • Deep back or pubic pain
          • Cramping in the lower abdomen
          • Walking difficulties
          • An unusual change in your baby’s movements
          • Absence of fetal movement


Committee on Obstetric Practice. (2002). ACOG committee opinion. Exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Number 267, January 2002. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Int J Gynaecol Obstet, 77 (1), 79-81.

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