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Exercise During Pregnancy

Regular exercise, with the approval of your healthcare provider or midwife, can often help to reduce the physical discomforts of pregnancy and help with the recovery after the baby is born. There is evidence that physical activity may be especially beneficial for women with gestational diabetes. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women who exercised and were physically fit before pregnancy can safely continue exercising throughout the pregnancy. Women who were inactive before pregnancy or who have medical or pregnancy complications should talk with their healthcare provider or midwife before beginning any exercise during pregnancy.

Picture of two mothers walking with jogging strollers

All women should be evaluated by their healthcare provider or midwife before beginning or continuing an exercise program in pregnancy.

Exercise may not be safe if the pregnant woman has any of the following conditions:

  • Preterm labor in current or past pregnancies

  • Vaginal bleeding

  • Cervical problems

  • Leaking of amniotic fluid

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness and/or fainting

  • Decreased fetal activity or other complications

  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia), although heart rate is typically higher in pregnant women 

  • Certain health problems, like high blood pressure or heart disease

Types of exercise to avoid during pregnancy

The following are some exercises to avoid while pregnant:

  • Horseback riding

  • Water skiing

  • Scuba diving

  • High altitude skiing

  • Contact sports

  • Any exercise that can cause a serious fall

  • Exercising on your back after the first trimester (because of reduced blood flow to the uterus)

  • Vigorous exercise in hot, humid weather, as pregnant women are less efficient at exchanging heat

  • Exercise involving holding one's breath during exertion. This can cause an increased intra-abdominal pressure

Online Medical Reviewer: Burd, Irina, MD, PhD
Online Medical Reviewer: Goode, Paula, RN, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2017
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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