Exercise During Pregnancy

Pregnancy:  Exercise Safely

Many women have discovered that exercise makes positive contributions to their pregnancies. No scientific studies prove that exercise during pregnancy eases labor, hasten recovery, or results in a healthier baby: Its results seem more subtle. Pregnant women who exercise regularly report improved self-esteem and self-image, better moods, and increased energy levels. Exercise during pregnancy may help maintain strength and endurance, and the exercises protect against back pain.

Exercise During Pregnancy

Most women can safely engage in mild to moderate exercise during pregnancy, provided they adjust their exercise programs for the changes pregnancy produces, Routines should be less intense even for women who engage in exercise before pregnancy. Pregnancy is not the time to start a vigorous program of physical conditioning. Women who have had problem pregnancies in the past who have medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes mellitus, should avoid vigorous exercise during pregnancy. Even a pregnant woman without special health problems should consult her physician before continuing her exercise program.

Program Tips

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists emphasizes some important points for exercise during pregnancy.

  • Checking your pulse rate during exercise is especially important. The safe upper limit for your heart rate during exercise should be lower during pregnancy than at other times.
  • Exercises that increase heart rate above 140 beats per minute can divert too much blood from the fetus to the muscles.
  • After the 20th week of pregnancy, avoid exercises that require laying flat on your back. In the position, the enlarged uterus compresses the major vein through which blood returns to the heart. Blood pressure falls, which may decrease blood flow to the fetus.
  • Because elevated hormone levels during pregnancy loosen ligaments in preparation for the birth, joints are less stable and more susceptible to injury.  Avoid exercises that involve extreme flexion (bending) or extension of the joints, such as squats and deep knee bends.
  • Avoid jumping or bouncy, jerky movements.
  • Drink plenty of fluids before and after exercise, more than you think you need, to prevent dehydration and elevation in body temperature.

Guidelines For Exercise During Pregnancy

A program of regular exercise while you're pregnant will improve the efficiency and health of your heart and blood vessels, will help you maintain or achieve the body weight that's best for you throughout your pregnancy, will help prevent constipation and keep an overall healthy feeling as your body copes with the physical changes that occur during these nine months.  

However, you must do the right kind of exercise for your health and your baby's well being. The following are some guidelines:

  • The safest exercises are low impact, aerobic exercises (swimming, walking, and cycling…)
  • AVOID high impact sports (jogging, intense jazzercise, or aerobic dance programs)
  • AVOID isometrics (weight training) during pregnancy if your blood pressure is high.
  • Always warm up and cool down for 5-10 minutes for the aerobic portion of exercise
  • Limit aerobic portion to 20minute sessions.
  • Keep your heart rate at 140beats per minute or less, checking frequently
  • Wear supportive clothing such as sports bar and shoes.
  • If you become dizzy or light headed or if your heart rate is over 140 beats per minute you are probably doing too much and should change your routine to a less strenuous program.
  • Always keep the weather in mind a dress appropriately (you must be able to sweat freely).


The medical information published on this website is not intended to serve as a substitution for a thorough evaluation from a qualified healthcare provider. Furthermore, no one should act upon any of the information (including medical conditions or procedures) contained within this website without appropriate medical advice, a thorough examination or any evaluation necessary to provide a health assessment from a qualified physician.

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