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Exercise and Pregnancy: A Healthy Combination
The Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy
- Weight control
- Stronger abdominal and back muscles, which improves posture and may lessen back pain
- Increased energy levels
- Improved mood
- Preparation for the physical demands of labor
- Enhanced quality of sleep
Activities to Limit or Avoid
- Scuba diving
- Activities that present an increased risk of falling such as skiing and skating
- Sports with a high potential for contact such as ice hockey and soccer
- Activity that involves lying flat on your back
- Resistance training with heavy weights
Exercise Duration and Frequency
Other Factors to Consider
- Balance: As your body shape changes, so does your balance, which could put you at a greater risk of falling.
- Temperature regulation: Exercising in a controlled, air-conditioned environment will help keep temperature levels in check. It's a good idea to wear layers of clothes and exercise during the cooler hours of the day. Also, drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Nutrition: Women who are pregnant need an extra 300 calories per day during the last six months of pregnancy. Exercising may further increase your calorie needs.
- Altitude: High altitudes may cause problems. If you visit or live in a high altitude area, then talk to your doctor about how to modify your exercise routine.
Before You Begin
- Vaginal bleeding
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Muscle weakness
- Calf pain or swelling
- Preterm labor
- Unusual change in your baby’s movement
- Amniotic fluid leakage
After Baby Arrives
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases http://win.niddk.nih.gov
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology http://www.csep.ca
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org
Exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/Resources%5FAnd%5FPublications/Committee%5FOpinions/Committee%5Fon%5FObstetric%5FPractice/Exercise%5FDuring%5FPregnancy%5Fand%5Fthe%5FPostpartum%5FPeriod. Published January 2002. Accessed April 18, 2014.
Fit for two: Tips for pregnancy. Weight-control Information Network website. Available at: http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/two.htm. Updated June 2013. Accessed April 18, 2014.
Healthy Pregnant or Postpartum Women. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/pregnancy.html. Updated March 30, 2011. Accessed April 18, 2014.
Kramer MS, McDonald SW. Aerobic exercise for women during pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jul 19;3:CD000180.
Pregnancy nutrition. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/pregnancynutrition.html. Updated January 2013. Accessed April 18, 2014.
Recreation and pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/recreation.html. Updated January 2013. Accessed April 23, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 04/2014
- Update Date: 04/23/2014