Home > Health Library > Exercise During Pregnancy
Exercise is good for healthy pregnant women who are
receiving prenatal care. Try to do at least 2½ hours a week of
moderate exercise.1, 2 One way to do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least
5 days a week. It's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more
throughout your day and week.
Exercise can improve your posture,
relieve back pain and other discomforts related to pregnancy, and prepare you
for the challenges of childbirth. Most women can begin or continue to exercise
during pregnancy. Try exercise classes designed specifically for pregnant women
or classes that offer safe variations for pregnant women. Many pregnant women
find exercising in the water, such as swimming or water aerobics, most
Moderate exercise/activity is safe for most pregnant
women. But it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before you start an
early stages of pregnancy, some women can continue their prepregnancy exercise
routines (including running, aerobics, biking, roller-skating, skiing, weight
lifting, or other physically strenuous activities). Other women find it
necessary to take it easy during the first weeks of pregnancy but can return to
their usual exercise after their morning sickness or extreme fatigue subsides.
While you are pregnant, listen to your body.
Eat a small snack or drink juice 15
to 30 minutes before you exercise. Do not exercise on an empty stomach. If you
have not eaten, your body may run low on glucose, causing your liver to release
substances known as ketones or ketoacids into your blood. Ketones are harmful
to a fetus.
Continue to eat a balanced diet. Pregnant women who
do not exercise require an additional 150 to 300 calories a day. When you
exercise during pregnancy, increase your caloric intake.
Do not become
overheated while exercising. To avoid
dehydration, drink plenty of fluids before, during,
and after exercise. Continue drinking liquids after exercise even if you do not
feel thirsty. This will help you stay hydrated.
To prevent fetal injury, avoid sports
that can involve potential contact, such as soccer and basketball.
Vigorous exercise above
6000 ft (1828.8 m) and scuba
diving can be dangerous for your fetus.2
Unless you are a competitive athlete, avoid strenuous activity, and
exercise only in moderation. You should be able to talk while you are working
out. Do not exercise to the point that you feel tired.
you are doing and contact your doctor if you notice any of the
After your fourth month of pregnancy, avoid any exercise
that requires you to lie flat on your back on a hard surface, such as sit-ups
and some yoga poses. The increasing size and weight of your uterus will press
on the large blood vessel that returns blood from your lower body to your
As your pregnancy advances (usually during the second
trimester), unstable joints, an expanding abdomen, and an altered center of
gravity can make you more unstable on your feet. Also, by then your uterus is
mostly above the protective circle of your pelvic bones. Avoid exercises that
might cause you to fall, such as skiing or roller-skating.
Swimming and brisk walking are safe exercises throughout pregnancy.
There is no evidence that exercise causes
miscarriage.3 But if you have a history of repeated
miscarriages, your doctor may advise you to avoid exercises that require your
body to bear extra weight (such as running) during the first trimester.
Your baby will not be harmed if you can't exercise because of a
complication of your pregnancy or an existing chronic illness or condition. You
may be able to do simple exercises in bed, with your doctor's approval.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008).
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP
Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
(2002, reaffirmed 2007). Exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
ACOG Committee Opinion No. 267. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 99(1): 171–173.
Katz VL (2008). Prenatal care. In RS Gibbs et al.,
eds., Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed.,
pp. 1–21. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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