Pregnancy and Exercise Guidelines

If you have been following a regular exercise program prior to your pregnancy, you should be able to maintain that program to some degree throughout your pregnancy. Exercise does not increase your risk for miscarriage.

  • If you are just starting an exercise program as a way of improving your health during your pregnancy, you should start very slowly and be careful not to over exert yourself.
  • Listen to your body. Your body will naturally give you signals that it is time to reduce the level of exercise you perform.
  • Never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. This is a sign that your baby and your body cannot get the oxygen supply it needs.
  • Wear comfortable exercise footwear that gives strong ankle and arch support.
  • Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids during exercise.
  • Avoid exercise in extremely hot weather.
  • Avoid rocky terrain or unstable ground when running or cycling. Your joints are more lax in pregnancy and ankle sprains and other injuries may occur.
  • Contact sports should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Weight training should emphasize improving tone, especially in the upper body and abdominal area. Avoid lifting weights above your head and using weights that strain the lower back muscles.
  • During the second and third trimesters, avoid exercise that involves laying flat on your back, as this decreases blood flow to your womb.
  • Include relaxation and stretching before and after your exercise program.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates.

Compiled using information from the following sources:

Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ch. 5.

American Academy of Family Physicians, http://familydoctor.org/

American Pregnancy Association, http://www.americanpregnancy.org

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