You’ve heard it’s important to exercise in pregnancy—but how much may be too much, and are there any restrictions on activities? Experts from the Mayo Clinic weigh in on this question with the following advice.

Exercising in pregnancy has lots of known benefits:

  • Boosts your mood and gives you steady energy
  • Improves your sleep
  • Keeps extra weight gain in check
  • Strengthens you and prepares you for birthing
  • Lowers your risks of gestational diabetes
  • Can shorten your overall labor
  • Reduce your risk of cesarean surgery
  • And it helps with backaches, bloating, swelling, and even constipation!

But before you ramp up your activity, talk with your pregnancy provider to learn what their concerns may be related to your health and pregnancy. You may be advised to modify or reduce your activity if you have any of the following issues:

  • High blood pressure that develops in pregnancy (preeclampsia)
  • Complications with your cervix
  • Any bleeding or fluids leaking from your vagina especially in your second or third trimester
  • Emerging issues with the placenta
  • You’re pregnant with more than one baby
  • Preterm labor with a previous pregnancy

If you weren’t super active before conceiving, now is not the time to start a high-energy fitness routine. In fact, walking is one of the best ways you can get all of the benefits of activity, including the super helpful mood boosts, and not put undue stress on your ever-changing pregnant body and baby.

If you were already active prior to pregnancy, ask your pregnancy care provider which activities you used to do that you can continue. You will likely also be cautioned to watch for signs of a problem emerging—if you experience any of the following, stop activity, meet with your healthcare provider, and share what you’re experiencing, including:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath, especially if this occurs before you start exercising
  • Uterine contractions that don’t stop when you rest
  • Any fluid leaking or running from your vagina
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Muscle weakness, especially if it affects your balance

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The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) promotes the health of women and newborns.

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