First and foremost, it’s important to speak with your care provider about exercise during your pregnancy. Guidelines for what is safe during pregnancy are not universal. Your care provider may suggest a different set of recommendations based on your unique health situation.
In general, exercise at any time during pregnancy, including early pregnancy, is safe. According the the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):
If you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it is safe to continue or start regular physical activity. Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery. However, it is important to discuss exercise with your obstetrician or other member of your health care team during your early prenatal visits. If your health care professional gives you the OK to exercise, you can discuss what activities you can do safely.
So yes, as long as you talk to your care provider (OB or midwife) you can exercise during pregnancy, even in early pregnancy! (Learn which conditions can make exercise unsafe during pregnancy.)
ACOG recommends taking the following safety precautions while exercising in pregnancy:
- If you are new to exercise, start out slowly and gradually increase your activity. Begin with as little as 5 minutes a day. Add 5 minutes each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout.
- Wear a sports bra that gives lots of support to help protect your breasts. Later in pregnancy, a belly support belt may reduce discomfort while walking or running.
- Avoid becoming overheated, especially in the first trimester. Drink plenty of water, wear loose-fitting clothing, and exercise in a temperature-controlled room. Do not exercise outside when it is very hot or humid.
- Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back as much as possible. When you lie on your back, your uterus presses on a large vein that returns blood to the heart. Standing motionless can cause blood to pool in your legs and feet. These positions may cause your blood pressure to decrease for a short time.
- Avoid activities that put you at increased risk of injury, like ice hockey, boxing, soccer, basketball, skydiving, downhill snow skiing, water skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, gymnastics, horseback riding, “hot yoga” or “hot Pilates,” scuba diving, and high altitude activities (unless you live at high altitude).
Learn more about exercise during pregnancy, including the benefits of exercise during pregnancy and potential warning signs during exercise.