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Pregnancy and Exercise

  • Category: Living Well
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Jamie Sias, M.D.

Research shows that regular exercise, with the approval of your healthcare provider, can often help to reduce the physical discomforts of pregnancy, reduce stress, improve energy and help with your recovery after giving birth. There is also evidence that physical activity may be beneficial for women with gestational diabetes. If you haven’t worked out before, use your pregnancy as a motivation for both you and your baby. Your body and hormones are changing, and exercise can help you cope with these changes.

What exercises are safe?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women who exercised and were physically fit before pregnancy can safely continue exercising throughout their pregnancy. As long as you are you not overdoing your exercises, you should be good. However, if you were inactive before pregnancy or have any medical or pregnancy complications, we highly recommend you talk to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise routine.

There’s an age-old myth that exercising while pregnant can harm the baby. However, there is no evidence that this myth is true. Strenuous exercising will not harm your baby, but it will cause you to become tiresome more quickly than it did preterm. Therefore, it is recommended to perform low-impact exercises during your pregnancy.

Here’s a list of safe activities:

  • Swimming
  • Brisk walking
  • Indoor cycling
  • Stair climbing machines
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Low-impact dancing
  • Jogging (in moderation)
  • Yoga

When exercising, it’s important to remember to warm up, stretch and cool down. Also, drink plenty of water and take breaks if needed.

Who should not exercise?

Exercise may not be safe if you have any of these 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

What are exercises are not safe?

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 your breath during exertion. This can cause an increased intra-abdominal pressure

If you start to experience any dizziness, faintness, chest pain, nausea, contractions and vaginal bleeding, stop exercising and contact your physician.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do for both yourself and baby during pregnancy and after delivery. Join Touro dietitian Julie Fortenberry and Yoga Instructor Kelley Howard Gill from Wild Lotus Yoga for an informative class on nutrition and wellness for expectant and new mothers

Click here to learn more or to register for an upcoming class.

Join Touro for Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby: nutrition and wellness during pregnancy and beyond.

Dr. Jamie Sias is an OB/GYN with Crescent City Physicians, Inc., a subsidiary of Touro Infirmary. She received her undergraduate degree from Xavier University of Louisiana and earned her medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine. Dr. Sias cares for patients at two convenient locations, Mid-City and St. Claude.