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Exercise Recommendations For Pregnancy

The following recommendations developed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) are for women who do not have additional risk factors for adverse maternal or perinatal outcomes.

Exercise Guidelines For Pregnancy
  1. During pregnancy, women 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 to intermittent activity.
  2. After the first trimester, women should avoid exercise in the supine position (on the back). This position is associated with decreased cardiac output. Prolonged periods of motionless standing should also be avoided.
  3. Since oxygen availability is decreased during exercise, women should be encouraged to modify the intensity of exercise according to maternal symptoms. She should stop exercising when fatigued and not exercise to exhaustion. Weight-bearing exercises may be continued under many circumstances with some modifications. Non-weight bearing exercises such as swimming or cycling will help minimize the risk of injury and facilitate the continuation of exercise during pregnancy.
  4. Any exercise which involves a potential threat of abdominal trauma or loss of balance and risk to mother or infant should be avoided.
  5. Since pregnancy requires an additional 300 calories per day, exercising women should make sure they are eating adequately.
  6. Adequate hydration, appropriate clothing, and optimal environmental surroundings are extremely important for body temperature regulation during exercise.
  7. Many of the physical changes during pregnancy persist 4-6 weeks after delivery so pre-pregnancy exercise routines should be resumed gradually based on a woman's physical capability.

    Source: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Technical Bulletin 1994:189.

Always begin aerobic exercise slowly and gradually build the intensity over a 5 to 10 minute period. Once you have completed the "Warm Up" period of aerobic exercise and you have a rhythm established for your workout, use the Perceived Exertion scale to evaluate your exercise intensity. Do not suddenly stop aerobic exercise. After your workout time is over, gradually slow down your speed, allowing your heart rate to return to a lower level before stopping.

If you have any of the following symptoms, stop exercising immediately and call your doctor.

Warning Signs Of Problems During Exercise
  • Pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty walking

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists there are specific conditions which may limit or restrict you from vigorous exercise. If you have any of the following conditions, discuss it with your health care provider before exercising.

When to Avoid Exercise During Pregnancy
  1. Premature rupture of membranes or placenta previa
  2. Premature labor during current or previous pregnancy
  3. Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
  4. Incompetent cervix
  5. Persistent bleeding during second or third trimester
  6. A history of high blood pressure, miscarriage, cardiac, vascular, pulmonary, or thyroid disease
  7. Intrauterine growth retardation (slowed growth of fetus) during current or previous pregnancy

    Source: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Technical Bulletin 1994:189.

Not all exercises or diets are suitable for everyone. Before you begin this program, you should have permission from your doctor to participate in vigorous exercise and change of diet. If you feel discomfort or pain when you exercise, do not continue. The instructions and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. The creators, producers, participants and distributors of this site disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the exercise and advice provided here.

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