Exercising While You Are Pregnant
Exercise has many benefits during pregnancy. It can help you feel better, relieving aches and pains, reducing constipation, strengthening your joints, and helping you sleep better. It can also help you feel better about the way your look, prepare you for labor and delivery, and help you regain your pre-pregnancy body more quickly after your baby is born.
For almost all women, exercise is safe throughout pregnancy. However, you should always discuss exercising with your doctor before you start, and if you your pregnancy is high-risk (e.g., if you have 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 you were already exercising regularly before you became pregnant, you should be able to continue doing so during your pregnancy, making adjustments as your body and energy level change. Some studies indicate that you can safely start an exercise program during pregnancy, even if you did not exercise regularly before your pregnancy. But it is especially important to consult with your doctor before doing this, since you will need to gradually incorporate exercise into your routine.
If your doctor has cleared you to exercise during your pregnancy, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity (e.g., walking, swimming, aerobic dancing) on most days of the week. You should stop exercising if you feel fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or back or pelvic pain. You should be able to talk while you are exercising and should keep your heart rate below 160 beats per minute.
Avoid becoming overheated by not overdoing it on hot days, and avoiding exercising outside from 10am to 3pm during hot months.
Certain exercises, including contact sports, downhill skiing, scuba diving, and horseback riding, should be avoiding because of the risk of injury. Also avoid activities that include bouncing, jarring, sudden changes in direction, and risk of abdominal injury. And because exercises performed on your back (e.g., sit-ups, some types of yoga) can limit blood flow to your baby, avoid these exercises during pregnancy.
Exercising during pregnancy. Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy_newborn/pregnancy/exercising_pregnancy.html . Accessed August 1, 2005.
Fit for two: tips for pregnancy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Weight–Control Information Network website. Available at: http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/two.htm . Accessed August 1, 2005.
American Pregnancy Association
President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Last reviewed May 2007 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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