Is It Safe To Exercise During Pregnancy?

Our physician addresses the top concerns of expectant mums who want to maintain an active lifestyle.

Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

If you are healthy and your pregnancy is progressing normally, it is safe to continue or start most types of exercise. Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birthweight or early delivery. However, some modifications to certain types of exercises may need to be made – discuss exercise with your obstetrician during your early prenatal visits. If given the green light, you can plan an exercise routine that fits your needs.

What are the benefits of exercising during pregnancy?

Regular exercise reduces back pain, eases constipation and promotes healthy weight gain while pregnant. Staying active may help decrease your risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and caesarean delivery. It also improves overall fitness and strengthens the heart and blood vessels, as well as helps you lose weight postpartum.

What exercises should I avoid?

Some exercises that should be avoided include contact sports that put you at risk of getting hit in the abdomen, as well as risky activities such as downhill snow-skiing, off-road cycling and horseback riding, which may result in a fall. Expectant mothers should also steer away from hot yoga and hot Pilates, which can lead to overheating. Scuba diving and high-altitude activities are also not recommended.

When should I stop?

During exercise, if you notice any bleeding or fluids leaking from the vagina, or you experience regular, painful contractions of the uterus, you should stop exercising and call your obstetrician immediately. Other symptoms that indicate you should stop and seek medical advice include feeling dizzy or faint, experiencing chest pains, headaches, muscle weakness, and calf pain or swelling. Additionally, if you are feeling short of breath before starting any exercise or physical activity, do not continue and call your doctor instead.


Walking: Brisk walking provides a total body workout and is easy on the joints and muscles.

Swimming and water workouts: If you find walking difficult because of lower back pain, water exercise is a good way to stay active. The water supports your weight, which helps you avoid injury and muscle strain.

Stationary bicycling: A stationary bike is a safer choice than riding a standard bicycle. This is because your growing belly can affect your balance and make you more prone to falls.

Modified yoga and Pilates: Yoga reduces stress, improves flexibility and encourages stretching and focused breathing. Avoid poses that require you to lie on your back for long periods. Look out for prenatal yoga and Pilates classes, which often teach modified poses that accommodate your shifting balance.

This article first appeared in Celebrating Life Apr/May 2017 Issue