Benefits (and risks) of Exercising While You're Pregnant
By Brooke Hansen, MD
May 24, 2017
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
If your pregnancy is normal, you should be able to continue exercising until you deliver your baby. However, pregnancy isn’t the time to lose weight or begin a strenuous exercise routine. Knowing how to exercise during pregnancy — and when to stop — will empower you to keep moving, even when pregnancy makes you tired or sick. That’s important because moving during your pregnancy has several benefits for you and for your baby.
Although you might have a hard time bending over to lace up your running shoes, working out during pregnancy may make it easier to lace up those shoes after your baby is born. Pregnant women who participate in regular activity are fit throughout their pregnancy, have an easier labor experience, and get back into shape after pregnancy faster than women who don’t work out. Other benefits you may experience from working out while pregnant:
You were exercising regularly before pregnancy and now you want to know if you can keep doing the exercises you love. The answer in most cases is yes. Your body should already be accustomed to the types of exercise you were doing.
While most exercise is fine, there are some workouts you should stop or avoid. They include any activity where you could fall or suffer abdominal trauma. You should also avoid activities that require a lot of jumping or bouncing, waist-twisting motions, bouncing while stretching, holding your breath for long periods of time, and exercising in hot or humid conditions. Additionally, while weight-lifting and strength-training are beneficial, pregnancy isn’t the time to try reaching your maximum lifting capacity or body-build. Most importantly, your workouts shouldn’t leave you exhausted. A good rule of thumb for intensity level while exercising is to make sure you can speak simple phrases without feeling like you’re gasping for air.