Exercise During Pregnancy

The following exercise recommendations are adapted from guidelines established by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG ) for pregnant women who do ot have any maternal or perinatal risk factors. Before starting an exercise program you should talk with your health care provider for specific, individual information, and recommendations.

It is important to never exercise to the point of exhaustion. Remember to listen to your body and start your program slowly. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start with as little as 5 minutes a day and increase that time weekly. A 5 to 10 minute warm-up is important each time you exercise.

Becoming active and exercising at least 30 minutes a day can benefit your health.
Benefits may include the following:
• Increased energy
• Reduction in backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
• Improvement in mood and posture
• Enhanced muscle tone, strength, and endurance
• Helps you sleep better

Keep in mind that pregnancy causes changes in your body that can affect your balance, joints, and heart rate. Hormones cause your joints to relax. Added weight during pregnancy can shift your center of gravity. Consequently, your body will work harder than when you are not pregnant.

Walking, swimming, cycling, and aerobics are considered safe during pregnancy, especially for exercise beginners. Moderate running, racquet sports, and strength training are generally considered safe for women who have done these activities prior to becoming pregnant.

After reaching your first trimester, avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back. Downhill skiing, contact sports, and scuba diving should be avoided during pregnancy.

Most women can safely start or continue to exercise during pregnancy and will derive benefits from regular activity. Discuss the benefits/risks of an exercise program and any obstetric or health condition which would limit your activity with you obstetrician or midwife.