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Health & Pregnancy

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Pregnancy: Exercise During Pregnancy

What Exercises Are Safe During Pregnancy?

Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you exercise with caution and do not overdo it.

The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary bicycling and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor). These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until birth.

Tennis and racquetball are generally safe activities, but your change in balance during pregnancy may affect rapid movements. Other activities such as jogging or running can be done in moderation. You may want to choose exercises or activities that do not require great balance or coordination, especially later in pregnancy.

To learn strength and toning exercises that are safe to do during pregnancy, see Sample Exercises.

What Exercises Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

There are certain exercises and activities that can be harmful if performed during pregnancy. Avoid:

  • Holding your breath during any activity
  • Activities where falling is likely (such as skiing and horseback riding)
  • Contact sports such as softball, football, basketball and volleyball
  • Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma, including activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in direction
  • Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, or bouncing
  • Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises and straight-leg toe touches
  • Bouncing while stretching
  • Exercises that require lying on your back or right side for more than three minutes. (especially after your third month of pregnancy)
  • Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity
  • Exercise in hot, humid weather
  • Scuba diving


What Should an Exercise Program Consist of?

For total fitness, an exercise program should strengthen and condition your muscles.

Always begin by warming up for five minutes and stretching for five minutes. Include at least fifteen minutes of cardiovascular activity. Measure your heart rate at times of peak activity (your heart rate may range from 140-160 beats per minute during activity). Follow aerobic activity with five to ten minutes of gradually slower exercise that ends with gentle stretching.

Here are some basic exercise guidelines:

  • Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes as well as a good support bra.
  • Choose shoes that are designed for the type of exercise you do. Proper shoes are your best protection against injury.
  • Exercise on a flat, level surface to prevent injury.
  • Consume enough calories to meet the needs of your pregnancy (300 more calories per day than before you were pregnant) as well as your exercise program.
  • Finish eating at least one hour before exercising.
  • Drink water before, during and after your workout.
  • After doing floor exercises, get up slowly and gradually to prevent dizziness.
  • Never exercise to the point of exhaustion. If you cannot talk normally while exercising, you are probably over-exerting yourself and should slow down your activity.

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