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 Is it Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women without medical or obstetric complications should be encouraged to exercise 30 minutes or more per day.

Activities Considered Safe in Pregnancy
  • Pilates
  • Strength training
  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Yoga

Your usual routine may need to be modified for the following:

  • Cycling
  • Aerobics
  • Running
Activities Not Safe in Pregnancy
  • Downhill skiing
  • Gymnastics
  • Horseback riding
  • Vigorous racquet sports
  • Scuba diving

TIPS FOR SAFE EXERCISE WHILE PREGNANT

  • If you haven't exercised for a while, begin slowly with a 5 minute work out and gradually work up to your goal over many weeks.
  • If you can't talk while exercising, then slow down or take a break.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during , and after exercise.
  • Avoid exercising on your back after the first trimester.
  • Avoid exercising in hot weather. Instead  exercise in an air-conditioned room when the weather is hot and humid.
  • Wear clothing that is comfortable.
  • Increase your caloric intake.

STOP EXERCISING AND CONSULT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SYMPTOMS DURING EXERCISE:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Contractions or pain in the back of the pelvis
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Your heart begins to skip beats or becomes irregular
  • Chest pain
  • Calf or leg pain
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Unusual pain
  • New onset headache

WOMEN WITH ANY OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS SHOULD NOT ENGAGE IN AEROBIC EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY:

  • Fetal growth restriction in the current pregnancy
  • Hemodynamically significant heart disease or unevaluated cardiac arrhythmia
  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Risk factors for preterm labor (such as multiple gestation , incompetent cervix with or without cerclage)
  • Preeclampsia
  • Preterm labor with the current pregnancy.
  • Ruptured of membranes
  • Vaginal bleeding or placenta previa

WOMEN WITH ANY OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS SHOULD ENGAGE IN AEROBIC EXERCISE ONLY ON THE ADVICE OF THEIR PHYSICIAN DURING PREGNANCY:

  • Diagnosed cardiac arrhythmia
  • Heavy smokers
  • Obese women
  • Poorly controlled medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, seizure disorder, insulin dependent diabetes, or  hypertension.
  • Severe anemia
  • Underweight women.

 

REFERENCES


1. Exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 267. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2002;99:171173 PMID:11777528
2. ACOG Education Pamphlet: Exercise During Pregnancy
3. Clapp JF. Fetal heart rate response to running in mid pregnancy and late pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1985;153:251-2.PMID:4050891
4. Artal R, Romem Y, Paul RH, Wiswell R. Fetal bradycardia induced by maternal exercise. Lancet 1984;ii:258-60.PMID:6146811
5. Clapp JF, Dickstein S. Endurance exercise and pregnancy outcome. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1984;16:556-62.PMID:6513772
6.Veille JC et al. Umbilical artery waveform during bicycle exercise in normal pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. 1989 ;73(6):957-60.PMID:2657527
7. Ertan AK, et al. Doppler examinations of fetal and uteroplacental blood flow in AGA and IUGR fetuses before and after maternal physical exercise with the bicycle ergometer. J Perinat Med 2004;32(3):260-5. PMID:15188802

Reviewed: Mark  Curran, M.D.

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