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Exercise During Pregnancy

Regular exercise, with the approval of your doctor or midwife, can often help to minimize 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 consult with their doctor or midwife before beginning any exercise during pregnancy.

Picture of two mothers walking with jogging strollers

All women should be evaluated by their doctor 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, 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 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 the Valsalva maneuver (holding one's breath during exertion), which can cause an increased intra-abdominal pressure

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