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Safe Workouts for Your Third Trimester

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on August 23, 2022

Even during your third and final trimester, regular exercise can be safe and help ease some of the discomfort of your pregnancy. But if you have pregnancy problems, you may need to avoid certain workouts.

Your doctor or midwife can help you pick the activities that are best for you and your baby.

Third Trimester Exercises

Here are some good picks for weeks 28 to 42 of your pregnancy.

Yoga and Pilates. These gentle workouts put little pressure on your body but still strengthen your core and pelvic floor. That will help you with balance, comfort, and labor and delivery.

Yoga also may help you sleep better and lower your stress and anxiety, and with pregnancy-related symptoms such as back pain, headaches, shortness of breath, and nausea.

Check into a class that welcomes women who are pregnant. Pace yourself, drink enough water, and take breaks if you need. Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to do yoga or Pilates at home, especially if you’ve done them before.

Walking. A light jog or walk can be a great workout, all the more so if you’re new to regular exercise. Walking is an easy and quick cardio activity that won’t stress your joints too much.

Swimming. Water lifts the pressure off your body, which can be welcome during your third trimester. Lapping around the pool or water aerobics are can be painless ways to get your heart pumping.

At-home workouts. Squats, lunges, leg lifts, and arm lifts with or without light weights can tone your muscles while you’re pregnant. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day of exercise. But listen to your body. As little as 5 minutes a day is a good start. Add 5 more minutes a day until you can do 30 minutes.

Pelvic floor exercises, called Kegel exercises, may help you avoid leaking pee, which can happen to some women after childbirth. You can do Kegels by pretending that you need to urinate, then holding and relaxing your pelvic muscles.

Exercises to Watch For

Some workouts may not be good for you during your third trimester. They may include:

Hot yoga or Pilates. High heat is not ideal when you’re pregnant. You could become overheated.

Lying down. Exercises that have you flat on your back can make your uterus press up against a large vein that pumps blood to your heart.

Standing still. Standing to long without much motion can make blood pool in your legs and feet. That can drop your blood pressure, which can make you faint.

Contact sports. Avoid games like soccer or volleyball where you might get hit. Same goes for activities like skiing, surfing, or horseback riding where you might fall.

Benefits of Exercise

Staying active during your pregnancy can help you and your baby in many ways:

Exercise Risks

Let your body tell you what it can do. If you don’t feel good during a workout, stop and rest. Slow down or quit your workout if you feel:

  • Dizzy
  • An unusually heavy heartbeat
  • Out of breath
  • Tired
  • Pain in your back or pelvis
  • Unable to talk while you work out

Skip workouts in hot or humid weather. Call your doctor right away if you have constant cramps, clammy skin, or severe thirst. You may have had too much sun or heat.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Lamaze International: “Best Exercise for Your Third Trimester of Pregnancy.”

Mayo Clinic: “Prenatal yoga: What you need to know,” “Pregnancy and exercise: Baby, let's move.”

Kids Health: “Exercising During Pregnancy.”

NCT: “Hot weather and high body temperature during pregnancy.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Exercise During Pregnancy.”

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