What Exercises Are Safe During Pregnancy?

Posted by | November 21, 2019 | Exercise, Pregnancy Medicine | No Comments

Expecting mothers can typically stay healthy by following a nutritious diet, accompanied by safe exercise during pregnancy. A woman’s body experiences many changes during these nine months and while exercise is a valuable part of staying healthy, there are some precautions to take and restrictions to make during this time.

The questions many expectant mothers have during this time include:

  • Is exercise safe during pregnancy?
  • What type of exercise is best during pregnancy?
  • What types of exercise should I avoid during pregnancy?

Safe Exercise During Pregnancy

Because every woman’s body is different, especially during pregnancy, it is important that the first step you take is to consult with your healthcare provider about the safety of exercising during your pregnancy. Some women with certain health issues, medical histories, and complications during this time might be advised against aspects of physical activity.

If you were already a jogger, a swimmer, or an avid yoga fan, chances are that you will be able to continue with those activities to certain extents during your pregnancy. For healthy women whose doctors feel they should be able to safely participate in physical activities, some of the following activities can be easy on the joints while still providing health benefits.

Walking – Walking is easy on the joints and doesn’t place extra demands on a woman’s balance. It can provide great cardio exercise, and it doesn’t require a lot of equipment or membership to the gym. Just invest in a good pair of walking shoes to help protect your possibly swelling feet, and don’t be surprised if you need a larger shoe size during these months.

Yoga – If you’ve already been enjoying yoga, chances are you will be able to continue this during pregnancy. It can provide you with tremendous benefits of flexibility and muscle strength which will be called upon as the months go by and labor near.

Swimming – This is another great cardio activity that doesn’t place a lot of strain on your body. The water helps support your weight, removing excess pull on your joints.

Dancing – Dancing is not only healthy for the body, but it can lift your spirits. Just be sure to be careful about your footwear – dancing around in high heels might be more than your balance or your body is ready for during pregnancy, especially the closer you get to your due date.

Weight Lifting – Many women who have already been on a weight lifting plan can safely continue during pregnancy, but will need to adjust their weight maximums as the pregnancy moves along. You can get similar healthy benefits by decreasing the pounds you are lifting and increasing the repetitions.

What Kinds of Exercise Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?

There are certain exercises that can pose more risks than are worth it during pregnancy. Keep in mind that the further along you are in your pregnancy, the greater the chance will be that your center of gravity will shift, making it harder to keep your balance safely. For this reason, it can be more dangerous to be bicycling and playing sports such as tennis, where sudden stops might throw off your already taxed balance.

Other sports that should be limited or paused during pregnancy include:

  • Hockey and soccer – they pose risks of falling and crashing
  • Skiing – it poses risks of falling, head and back injuries, and risks to joints that are already changing due to pregnancy hormones (cross-country skiing might be an exception to this)
  • Horseback riding – the horse is the unpredictable factor and poses too much of a risk that you might fall
  • Scuba diving – the reaction your body has as it rises to the surface can lead to dangers for your baby
  • Extreme sports like spelunking, diving, and rock climbing should be avoided for their already dangerous risks.

Always be sure to discuss your exercise concerns with your physician. Be on the lookout for symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, chest pain, and spotting that might indicate an exercise induced issue with your pregnancy.

[Image Credit: webmd, news-medical, thenest]
Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”