The goal of any pregnancy is to deliver a healthy baby to a healthy mom. Regular physical activity can be an important part of a healthy pregnancy.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) agrees that exercise during pregnancy can be beneficial for healthy women with normal pregnancies.

Exercise can reduce back pain, ease constipation, and improve overall fitness. It benefits your blood vessels and heart and supports healthy weight gain. Regular exercise during pregnancy can also decrease your risk of pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

How much exercise is enough?

For mothers healthy enough to exercise, the ACOG recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week – that’s just 30 minutes, 5 times a week. If you were active before getting pregnant, you can probably continue your same workout routine, with some modifications.

If you didn’t exercise regularly before pregnancy, starting as slow as 5 minutes a day is beneficial. Then, add another 5 minutes each week until you’re active 30 minutes per day.

Most exercises and many sports activities are safe during pregnancy, but you may need to avoid others or modify your activity to reduce the risk of complications.

Before you commit to any exercise, it’s important to talk to your OB/GYN to ensure your medical history is compatible with your plans.

Exercises and Activities to Avoid When You’re Pregnant

Certain activities or types of movements are risky during pregnancy. You may have an increased risk of injury due to:

  1. Activity at a high altitude (6,000 feet) if you don’t live at a high altitude
  2. Activities that have a fall risk, like downhill or water skiing, horseback riding, or off-road cycling
  3. Activity that includes rapid changes in direction or jarring movements, or that could cause abdominal trauma
  4. Bouncing while stretching
  5. Classes with an elevated room temperature that encourages sweating, like hot yoga or hot Pilates
  6. Contact sports, like basketball, ice hockey, or soccer
  7. Deep knee bends, double leg raises, sit-ups, straight-leg toe touches
  8. Extensive bouncing, hopping, jumping, or skipping
  9. Heavy exercise in spurts followed by periods of inactivity
  10. Exercising in hot, humid weather
  11. Scuba diving
  12. Skydiving

First Things First: Talk to Your OB-GYN About Exercise

The first step in any exercise program while pregnant is to discuss your plans with your OB/GYN.

They are familiar with your health history and can recommend safe activities for you. While the list of activities to avoid may seem long, you’ll find that you can still enjoy many of your favorites and may even enjoy trying something new.

Whatever you choose, always begin by warming up, and take care to never overexert yourself.

Begin your pregnancy care today and discuss exercising safely with an OB/GYN by scheduling an appointment now.