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Pregnancy: Planning Your Exercise Routine

While you’re pregnant, an exercise routine helps both your mind and your body feel good. It tones your muscles and makes them stronger. It also gives you and your baby more oxygen.

Pregnant woman walking for exercise.

The Right Exercise for You

Overall conditioning is best for you and your baby. Try walking, swimming, or riding a stationary bike. Always warm up, cool down, and drink enough fluids. Keep a snack close by in case your blood sugar gets low. Discuss exercise choices with your health care provider. Talk about the following:

  • If you already exercise, find out how to adapt your routine while you’re pregnant. Keep the intensity of the exercise moderate.

  • Ask if there are any local prenatal exercise classes, such as water aerobics. Find out which prenatal exercise videos are good choices.

  • If you were not exercising before your pregnancy, find out the best way to start. Now is not the time to begin a new workout on your own. Start slowly. LIsten to your body.

  • Ask which forms of exercise you should avoid. These may include risky activities, such as horseback riding, scuba diving, skiing, skating, and contact sports.

Pelvic Tilts

These help strengthen your abdominal muscles and low back. You can do pelvic tilts instead of sit-ups.

  • Do this exercise on your hands and knees.

  • Relax the back of your neck. Pull your abdomen in until your low back flattens.

  • Hold for 30 seconds. Release. Repeat 10 times. Do this twice a day.

Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic muscles. Doing Kegels daily helps prepare these muscles for delivery. Kegels also help ease your recovery. You exercise these muscles by tightening, holding, then relaxing them. To do one type of Kegel exercise, contract as if you were stopping your urine stream (but do it when you’re not urinating). Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat 10 times, a few times a day.

Tips to Add Activity

  • Park the car farther from a store and walk.

  • If you can, do errands on foot instead of driving.

  • Walk across the office to talk to someone in person instead of calling.

  • While waiting for appointments, go up and down stairs or around the block.

Tips to Stay Active

  • Maintain your routine. But exercise less intensely if you feel tired.

  • Base your workout on how you feel, not your heart rate. Heart rates aren’t a good way to measure effort during pregnancy.

  • Avoid exercising on your back after week 16.

Online Medical Reviewer: Dolan, Mary S, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Morell, Patrick W, MD
Last Review Date: 12/22/2011
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.