Exercise in the First Trimester

Woman Running

Getting sufficient exercise in pregnancy is helpful in preparing your body for the job of labor, as well as providing the usual benefits of stress relief and prevention of health complications later in life, both of which can take on new meaning when you become pregnant.  Exercise can also help to mitigate the risks of gestational diabetes.

What Kind of Exercise Can I Do?

Women often have a lot of questions about what kind of exercise they can do early in pregnancy.   Generally speaking, moderate exercise of most kinds is fine during the first trimester.  If you did not exercise before pregnancy, you should start slow and work up to a regular routine.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women exercise for 30 minutes as many days of the week as possible.

Types of exercise that are good in the first trimester include:

  • Running
  • Brisk Walking
  • Stationary Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Step or Elliptical Machines
  • Moderate Strength Training
  • Prenatal Yoga

Exercise that comes with a high risk of contact to the abdomen and/or falling should be avoided, including:

  • Ice hockey
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Gymnastics
  • Horseback Riding
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Vigorous Racquet Sports

Do I Need to Limit My Heart Rate During Exercise?

Many years ago, physicians used to recommend that women keep their heart rate below 140 beats per minute once they became pregnant, but this guideline is no longer considered current.  See Dr. Roger W. Harms’ post on this issue on the Mayo Clinic website here.

As with all health-related questions during pregnancy, please contact your doctor or midwife with any specific concerns or questions related to exercise.


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