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Exercise During Pregnancy

Regular exercise, with the approval of your health care provider, can often help to minimize the physical discomforts of pregnancy and help with recovery after your 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 conditions or pregnancy complications should consult with their health care provider before beginning any exercise during pregnancy.

All women should be evaluated by their health care provider before beginning or continuing an exercise program during 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
  • 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, such as high blood pressure or heart disease

Types of exercise to avoid during pregnancy:

  • horseback riding
  • water skiing
  • scuba diving
  • high altitude skiing
  • contact sports
  • any exercise that could 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’s bodies are less efficient at cooling
  • exercise involving the Valsalva maneuver (holding one's breath during exertion) because it can cause increased intra-abdominal pressure