Exercise During Pregnancy

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If you are a new patient seeking prenatal care, please call 310-794-7274. If you are an established patient and need to reach labor and delivery, call 310-825-9111 for Westwood or 424-259-9250 for Santa Monica.

Exercise and Pregnancy

Exercising or being active for at least 30 minutes a day can boost your health during pregnancy. Movement is a great way to reduce pregnancy-related symptoms such as backache, constipation, bloating and swelling. Exercising may also help pregnant parents with gestational diabetes, as it can help normalize blood-sugar levels. Working out can also improve your sleep, mood, posture and energy.

If you had an exercise routine before becoming pregnant, you can usually continue to safely follow it throughout your pregnancy. Exercising does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight or early delivery. If you did not have an exercise routine before pregnancy or have medical complications, you should talk with your health care team before beginning an exercise program during pregnancy.

Aerobic exercises, such as swimming, walking, pregnancy yoga and riding a stationary bike, are safe during pregnancy, even if you are a beginner. If you were a runner before your pregnancy, you can usually continue running during pregnancy. You may need to change your routine, however, to protect your baby and your changing body.

If you have not exercised recently, begin slowly, with a few minutes of physical activity per day. Increase your routine by 5 minutes every week until you are able to remain active for 30 minutes.

Avoid the following physical activities during pregnancy:

  • Scuba diving
  • Any activity that could lead to a fall, such as gymnastics, bicycling, snow and water skiing, snowboarding, surfing or horseback riding
  • Long periods of holding your breath
  • Exercising at high altitude (higher than 6,000 feet)

Follow these guidelines when exercising:

  • Listen to your body and do exercises that you tolerate. If you feel short of breath, or have abdominal cramping, contractions or bleeding, rest and hydrate. When you next exercise, consider a lower intensity activity.
  • Do not exercise in hot, humid weather. Avoid hot yoga.
  • Do not exercise if you have a fever.
  • Wear clothing that keeps you cool.
  • Wear a supportive, well-fitted bra.
  • Drink water often to prevent overheating and dehydration.
  • Be sure to eat before and after exercising to avoid dizziness and fainting.

If you have questions about exercise, please talk to your UCLA Health care team.