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Ask Our Physicians: Exercising During Pregnancy

Posted on March 30, 2018

Dear Dr. Pipkin:

I want to stay physically active while I’m pregnant, but I’m not sure what type of exercise is safe. Is there anything I should avoid during my pregnancy?

Danielle Pipkin, MD of Fort Sanders Women's Specialists
Danielle Pipkin, MD

Exercise during pregnancy can be very beneficial for you and your baby. It helps keep your body strong, reduces physical discomforts (like backache, muscle cramps, and fatigue), improves sleep, and keeps your baby healthy. Exercise also helps you recover after your baby is born.

Most women can exercise safely during pregnancy. We recommend all women talk with your doctor first about whether physical activity is safe for you and your baby during pregnancy.

If your doctor says it’s okay to work out, try doing so for 30 minutes a day. If you’re not used to physical activity, start slowly and build up to 30 minutes a day or break your total time into 10 minute workouts.

When to Avoid Exercising

Remember to talk with your physician about exercising while pregnant. It isn’t safe if you’re experiencing:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Increased heart rate – although your heart rate is typically higher while pregnant
  • Chest pain or a severe headache
  • Sudden pain or swelling in your calf
  • Certain health problems, like high blood pressure or heart disease
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Cervical problems
  • Leaking of amniotic fluid
  • Preterm labor in current or previous pregnancies
  • Decreased activity from your baby or other complications

If you experience any of these symptoms during or after exercising, call your physician immediately.

Exercises to Do

Many communities offer prenatal exercise classes. Here are some good workouts to try during your pregnancy:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Certain aerobics and yoga classes
  • Cycling on a stationary bike

Exercises to Avoid

There are some activities you should not do during your pregnancy, including:

  • Anything that can cause a serious fall
  • Vigorous activity in hot, humid weather
  • Exercising on your back after the first trimester (because of reduced blood flow to the uterus)
  • Anything that requires you to hold your breath
  • Contact sports
  • High altitude or water skiing
  • Scuba diving
  • Horseback riding

Important Tips for Exercising

Make sure to wear comfortable clothes, supportive athletic shoes, and a good fitting bra. Drink plenty of water before, during and after you work out. Listen to your body and slow down or stop if you’re feeling out of breath, overheated, or dizzy.

Learn More

Call us at (865) 331-1122 to speak with our physicians or nurses about physical activity during pregnancy.

Click here to learn more about safely exercising while pregnant.

About Dr. Pipkin:

In addition to obstetrics, Danielle Pipkin, MD specializes in:

  • Preventative care
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Vaginal surgery

For more information about Dr. Pipkin, please click here to see her profile. She is accepting new patients, and you can make an appointment with her by calling (865) 331-1122.

Disclaimer: please note that this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice. If you have a specific medical question or issue, we encourage you to call our office at (865) 331-1122 and schedule an appointment.

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