Exercising Safely During Pregnancy

Tips for Safe Exercising

Be aware that your joints are more susceptible to injury, because during pregnancy hormones can cause ligaments around your joints to relax. Also, your center of gravity changes as your due date approaches, which can affect your balance.

These guidelines are from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, but they are not a substitute for medical clearance. Only your physician can advise on what's best for you and your pregnancy.

  • Do non-weight-bearing exercise such as riding a stationary bike or swimming instead of weight-bearing exercise such as jogging or aerobics
  • Exercise regularly—at least three times per week
  • Exercise at your own pace. You should be able to talk without becoming short of breath while exercising. Your pulse (heart rate) should remain below 140 during exercise.
  • Increase exercise time and intensity gradually if you are starting a new program, especially during the second trimester. Take breaks if you exercise longer than 30 minutes.
  • If you do strength training, use light weights or other resistance. Do not strain, do not lift weights while lying on your back, and do not hold your breath or bear down.
  • Do not exercise when you are fatigued, particularly late in your pregnancy.
  • Keep your body temperature within a safe limit for your baby. Never exercise in a hot, humid environment or if you are running a fever. Avoid steam rooms, saunas, and hot tubs.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to prevent dehydration.
  • Eat a light snack 1 to 2 hours before exercise to provide added energy during your workout.

If you experience any of the following warning signs, discontinue exercise and call your physician:

  • Unexplained faintness or dizziness
  • Severe headaches or visual disturbances
  • Elevated pulse or blood pressure that persists after exercise

For most expectant moms, exercise has many benefits throughout pregnancy. To be on the safe side, always get your physician's approval before starting or continuing an exercise program during pregnancy.