May 30, 2017 12:00 AM

Author: Jamie Fidler


Many expectant women, especially first-time mothers, have questions about physical activity during pregnancy. For the vast majority of women, exercising during pregnancy has minimal risk for both mom and baby. In fact, the right types of physical activity are actually critical in keeping a woman’s body healthy for those nine dedicated months.

Marcela C. Smid, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Utah Health, encourages women with uncomplicated pregnancies to participate in low-impact activities. While the vast majority of women are encouraged to exercise in pregnancy, there are some conditions in which exercise should be avoided; consult with your provider to make sure you don't have one of these conditions.

Safe examples of low-impact physical activity during pregnancy include:

  • walking
  • swimming
  • stationary cycling
  • jogging or running
  • yoga
  • Pilates
  • low-impact aerobics
  • strength training
  • dancing

Smid also suggests that woman maintain or slightly increase their aerobic fitness during pregnancy as maternal symptoms permit.

Potential benefits from exercise specific to pregnancy include:

  • decreases risk of pre-term labor
  • decreases risk of preeclampsia
  • decreases risk in delivering a large newborn
  • decreases risk of post-partum depression
  • decreases risk of developing gestational diabetes
  • decreases likelihood of needing a cesarean delivery

Exercise during pregnancy is not only beneficial to mother, the baby also benefits. Studies have shown both positive body composition and neurodevelopment outcomes in the children of women who exercised regularly throughout their pregnancy. They also show that children contain less body fat at birth and at 5 years old.

exercise pregnancy

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