Tips on Exercising Safely during Pregnancy

by Anna Burns, PT, DPT

Infinite Potential Physical Therapist


There are SO many things to consider when pregnant, and physical activity is one of them.  In the old days, women were advised to “take it easy” while pregnant. However now, the CDC recommends that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.  Ideally, a pregnant woman should be able to do any exercise she had been doing prior to pregnancy with a few modifications.


Here are a few things to avoid during exercise while pregnant:

  • Laying on your back for more than 3 minutes after 20 weeks
  • Exercising in a hot, humid environment, whether it’s outside or in a heated studio
  • Performing inversion poses or any position where the hips are above the shoulders (handstands, bridges, etc.)
  • Exercises that put pressure on the abdomen during mid-to-late pregnancy, have a risk of falling, or contact sports
  • Over-stretching muscles


If you lift weights, here are a few guidelines and suggested modifications:

  • Decrease your lifting load to 60-75% of your pre-pregnancy “one rep max.”
  • Modify asymmetrical movements such as a split snatch or a split jerk if they cause pain in your pelvis.
  • If your belly gets in the way with lifting from the floor, lift from blocks instead.
  • Switch out front squats for back squats, as the front squats increase your intra-abdominal pressure (which is already increased by the presence of the baby).


Regardless of the type of exercise you participate in, watch for symptoms that signal you should STOP exercising and contact your healthcare provider immediately:


  • Bleeding or leaking fluid from the vagina
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Shortness of breath before starting exercise
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Regular, painful contractions of the uterus


You should always talk to your obstetrician or midwife before starting an exercise routine.  Don’t let pregnancy leave you sitting around eating bonbons! The more active you can stay, the better you and your baby will feel, both during pregnancy and after delivery!



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