When you discover that you are pregnant, you start asking questions about which activities are safe. Vacation, hobbies, exercise and everyday activities have always been a part of your life, but now you are wondering if you need to change how you do certain things. Exercise, in general, is good for you and your developing baby. However, there are some activities that you should avoid during pregnancy to ensure your baby’s safety.
Before you engage in any physical activity, it is important to visit with your health care provider to discuss your situation and evaluate together what is safe. Below is a list of activities that may warrant restrictions or other specific recommendations from your health care provider:
Running, Jogging and Pregnancy: Runners who continue exercising during pregnancy tend to gain less weight, have leaner babies and shorter labors. If you are experiencing any pregnancy complications, you will probably be advised to stop jogging. Check with your health care provider for specific recommendations related to running and jogging.
Bicycling, Spinning and Pregnancy: Cycling or riding a stationary bike is a good source of exercise that increases your heart rate without pounding the pavement. Cycling may become more uncomfortable during the last trimester when your belly has grown and it is a challenge to reach the handle bars. Avoid riding off the road or when the pavement is wet, both of which increase your chance of having an accident.
Weight Lifting and Pregnancy: If you have a history of miscarriage or pregnancy complications, your physician may request that you avoid weight lifting. Check with your health care provider for specific recommendations related to weight lifting.
Skiing and Pregnancy: Both water and snow skiing have high incidents of falls and pose significant risk of injuries. Both water and snow skiing are not recommended during pregnancy.
Scuba Diving and Pregnancy: Scuba divers must decompress as they return to the surface of the water. Developing babies may have difficulty decompressing. Some studies report a higher incidence of birth defects and preterm birth among women who dive during pregnancy. Scuba diving is not recommended during pregnancy.
High Impact Aerobics and Pregnancy: Aerobic exercise, in general, is healthy for pregnant women and their developing babies. Low impact aerobics with a certified instructor is very beneficial. High impact aerobics is not recommended because of the extensive jumping, hopping and bouncing during the routine. Your center of gravity has shifted which may affect your balance and coordination, making you more susceptible to injury. You may be asked to avoid aerobic exercise if you have a history of miscarriage or if you have complications with your pregnancy. Check with your health care provider for specific recommendations related to aerobic exercise.
Contact Sports and Pregnancy: Women who are pregnant are encouraged to avoid activities that may allow direct trauma to the abdomen. Contact sports pose a significant risk of trauma to the abdomen; therefore it is recommended that you avoid contact sports during pregnancy.
Activities With Risks of Falling: Ice skating, roller blading, rock climbing, and other activities that have higher risks of falling should be avoided during pregnancy. Check with your health care provider for specific recommendations about a hobby or activity that poses a risk of falling.
Exercise at High Altitudes and Pregnancy: Some studies suggest a connection between living in high altitudes of 8,000 feet or more and pregnancy complications. Exercise at altitudes over 7,500 feet has been identified as unsafe. Although there are certainly women who live at altitudes above 7,500 feet who have been pregnant, exercised and had healthy babies. Check with your health care provider for specific recommendations related to exercising in high altitudes.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
Exercising Through Your Pregnancy Clapp III, James F., M.D., Ch. 6, 8, and 10.
Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy Harms, Roger W., M.D., et al, Introduction.