Is Exercise Safe During Pregnancy?
By Lisa Stone, ACE
Q. Is exercise safe during pregnancy?
A. Not only is exercise safe during pregnancy, but it is now recommended in most cases. As long as your exercise program follows the 1994 American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines for exercise in pregnancy, and as long as you've gotten your caregiver's approval, you should be able to safely continue exercising right up until you have
Of course, your best bet is to find a program designed specifically for pregnant women and taught by an instructor trained and certified in pre- & post-natal fitness, whether it's a class or a home workout video. But, if you don't have access to such a program, you can modify a "regular" class to conform to the ACOG guidelines.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Recommendation
for Exercise in Pregnancy & Postpartum, February 1994
For women who do not have a high-risk pregnancy, the following
Contraindications to Exercise:
- During pregnancy, you can continue to exercise and derive health
benefits even from mild- to-moderate exercise routines. Regular exercise
(at least three times per week) is preferable.
- Women should avoid exercising in a back-lying position after the first
trimester. Prolonged periods of motionless standing should also be avoided.
- Women should be aware of the decreased oxygen available for aerobic
exercise during pregnancy. Pregnant women should stop exercising when
fatigued and not exercise to exhaustion.
- Changes in your body during pregnancy should be your guide to avoiding
certain types of activities in which loss of balance is probable.
- Pregnancy requires an additional 300 calories per day. Therefore, women
who exercise during pregnancy should be particularly careful to ensure an
- Pregnant women who exercise in the first trimester should drink plenty
of water, wear loose-fitting clothing, and make sure that the area is
- Many of the changes of pregnancy persist 4-6 weeks postpartum.
Therefore, pre- pregnancy exercise routines should be resumed gradually
based on a woman's physical capability.
In addition, women with certain other medical or obstetric conditions,
including chronic hypertension or active thyroid, cardiac, vascular, or
pulmonary disease, should be evaluated carefully in order to determine
whether an exercise program is appropriate.
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Preterm rupture of membranes
- Preterm labor during the prior or current pregnancy or both
- Incompetent cervix/cerclage (a treatment for incompetent cervix)
- Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
- Intrauterine growth retardation
(Source: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
For more information regarding the recommendation above, contact:
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
409 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20024-2188