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How to safely exercise during pregnancy

Exercise should be part of your everyday routine and this doesn’t have to change during pregnancy.

If you are already exercising on a regular basis, there should be no reason you should have to change your routine.

There are certain things women should avoid when exercising while pregnant:

  • Activities that could cause trauma such as ice skating, mountain biking, etc., where a fall during the activity could harm the baby.
  • Standing for prolonged periods of time, which can cause blood to pool in the legs and could lead to circulation issues.
  • Activities that require you to lie down on your back after the first trimester. Lying on your back for prolonged periods can block blood flow back up to the baby. 
  • Scuba diving, which can lead to an air embolism and decompression sickness due to a change in air pressure.

If you are experiencing any complications during pregnancy, it’s important to consult with your physician before beginning any form of exercise. For example if you have a history of pre-term labor, exercising could potentially set off pre-term labor. 

It would also be a good idea to consult with your physician if you’d like to continue exercising during your third trimester.

My advice for the healthy, average pregnant woman wanting to incorporate exercise in their pregnancy is:

  • Don’t do more than you were doing before pregnancy.
  • You should be able to carry a conversation while exercising; don’t exert yourself to such an extent that you don’t have the energy to breathe and talk while exercising.
  • 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise is a good target for most women.

By incorporating exercise into your pregnancy, your chances of having a successful labor, delivery and recovery are better. You’re keeping your body in shape, and it’s good for your blood sugars, weight and muscles.

About Andrew Porter DO

I am associate director of the Via Christi Family Medicine Program and assistant director of the Via Christi Sports Medicine Fellowship. I am a team doctor for Wichita State University and Newman University in Wichita, Kan.