Your pregnancy is going to be one of the most amazing milestones in your life. And you’ll want to stay as healthy as possible for yourself and your baby. In addition to maintaining a nutrient-dense diet, staying active while pregnant can also be a big boost.
But is it safe to exercise throughout your pregnancy? What should your workouts look like? Are there specific exercises you should avoid because they’re dangerous for your little one? Keep scrolling for answers to these questions and more.
Should You Work Out?
Yes, if possible, you absolutely should stay active during your pregnancy
! Research tells us that exercising while pregnant offers a number of benefits, including reducing the chances of:
- Preterm birth. This is when the baby is born before 37 weeks.
- Needing an emergency c-section.
- Blood clots, which can be fatal.
- Maternal obesity.
- Preeclampsia, or high blood pressure.
- Discomfort like backaches, bloating, swelling, and constipation.
Working out while pregnant can also make for a smoother and faster delivery. And it makes the recovery process easier. Women physically active during pregnancy typically find it more manageable to bounce back after delivery.
So, yes, sticking to your workouts while pregnant is a smart idea!
Exercises to Avoid
While exercising during pregnancy offers a number of benefits for both mother and baby, there are certain exercises and workouts that pregnant women should avoid.
1. Full-Contact Sports
In full-contact sports, in general, the possibility of injury is higher.Consider aggressive, contact sports like football, hockey, rugby, and kickboxing. The last thing a pregnant woman needs is a high-impact blow to her stomach. And even if a punch or kick doesn’t make direct contact there, it can still be potentially damaging to an expectant mother.
For example, concussions can occur in full-contact sports. Pregnant women can respond to this uniquely. For instance, even a mild concussion
can impact your hormone levels, which can then impact your baby. In this scenario, you’d also need to be careful with which medications you use.
Full-contact sports are also a no-go because they often include falling, jumping, and sudden changes in direction—which can be dangerous for pregnant women. For example, vigorous and intense jumping during pregnancy can cause bleeding, contractions, preterm labor, and even miscarriage.
2. Exercises in Sweltering Heat
The temperature a pregnant woman can safely exercise varies depending on her health and fitness level. Some women can work out in higher temperatures without any problems, while others may be more susceptible to heat exhaustion or other heat-related illnesses.
hasfound that as a general rule of thumb, pregnant women can safely perform high-intensity aerobic exercise at a temperature of 77 degrees (25 C), with the humidity at approximately 45 percent.
Be sure you know the signs of heat-related damage
. These include:
- Dizziness or confusion.
- Muscle or stomach cramps.
- Excessive thirst.
- Excessive sweating or clamminess of the skin.
You also need to be careful in particularly dry climates. In areas with lower humidity, you might become much more thirsty. Best rule to follow here: stay hydrated.
If you have any concerns about the temperature you’re training it, consider sitting it out or going with something low-intensity.
3. Any Transport Sports Where You Can Fall
Transport sports means activity that gets you somewhere. For example, if you ride a bike to work, that’s transport.
As mentioned earlier, falling can be dangerous if you’re pregnant. Especially during the late second and early third trimester
, if you fall, you might experience:
- Loss of amniotic fluid.
- Placental abruption, meaning the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus.
- Fetomaternal hemorrhage, where the fetal blood cells pass into the maternal circulation.
During earlier weeks, the risk isn’t asgreat: your body does a pretty good job of protecting the fetus. Uterus walls are thick and strong, acting as a sort of shield. Amniotic fluid cushions your little one. And early on, the uterus is safely tucked behind the pelvic bone.
In general, the bigger your belly, the more careful you need to be.
4. Exercises with Too Much Core Engagement
Strengthening your core muscles throughout the duration of your pregnancy is a wise idea. It can even help alleviate lower back pain and prepares you for the demands of delivery. But keep in mind: too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
Avoid core exercises that cause the abdominal muscles to bulge out, such as sit-ups, crunches, and double leg lifts, which can contribute to diastasis-recti. When this happens, your ab muscles separate at the midline—vertically down the center. Diastasis-recti is common, affecting about 60 percent of women
. It usually heals on its own within 8 weeks of delivering your baby. Roughly 40 percent of women have it 6 months postpartum. It can
be permanent; but there are things you can do to decrease your odds of experiencing it (like avoiding certain core exercises).
Also avoid anything that puts pressure on the abdominal muscles, pulls on them, has you laying on your stomach (later in your pregnancy), or has you bending backward or otherwise contorting yourself into strained positions.
Rest assured that there are still plenty of baby-safe exercises you can do to target your abs, including:
- Side planks.
- Bird-dog crunches.
- Standing bicycle crunches.
- Side crunches.
Keep in mind that breathing exercises and even Kegels will challenge your core muscles—it doesn’t need to be complicated to work.
5. Activities Involving Altitude Changes
A change in altitude can be risky for mom and baby. That’s because when we move to a significantly different elevation too quickly (whether it’s higher or lower), we are at risk for altitude sickness. Altitude sickness symptoms include:
- Loss of breath.
- Heart palpitations.
This is why people who climb mountains do so gradually. They need to give their bodies a chance to acclimate to the higher elevation, in order to avoid these symptoms.
For pregnant women, these symptoms can be even more severe.
Now, all that being said, if you previously trained to be more acclimated to various altitudes, you might be able to safely exercise at different elevations. However, a conversation with your doctor is a must.
If You’re in Pain, it’s Best to Stop
“No pain, no gain”: it’s a (supposed) law of the universe that too many people live by. However, it might be a completely misguided notion. In general, exercising should not hurt. Might it be uncomfortable? Sure. Challenging? Certainly. But painis an indication that something is wrong. You might be going too hard or training with an undiagnosed condition or injury.
If you experience pain during a workout, especially if you’re pregnant, stop immediately. Speak with your coach or healthcare provider to find out what might be causing it.
Don’t forget about the other symptoms we discussed, either. It’s not just pain you need to watch out for: cramping, trouble breathing, dizziness, nausea, and headache are also red flags. This could be your body’s way of telling you, “Hey, I don’t like this. Please slow down!”
When in Doubt, Talk to Your Doctor
We’ve already mentioned this a couple of times but it bears repeating: Staying in touch with your doctor and reporting any unusual symptoms is vital. Better yet, take a proactive approach and speak with them in advance about what types of exercises you can safely do during each stage of your pregnancy.
If you’re working with additional professionals—like a doula or coach—they might also be able to provide guidance.
Getting Started with Tempo
One of the smartest ways to exercise during your pregnancy is to choose workouts that are specifically designed for expectant mothers. For example, Tempo’s workouts
include prenatal training led by Head Coach Melissa. Melissa is a prenatal and postnatal specialist certified through Birthfit, Fit for Birth, and Girls Gone Strong. And she’ll help you stay healthy during your pregnancy.
Our prenatal classes
incorporate exercises with and without weights. If needed, you can easily modify these exercises to better suit your comfort level. Coach Melissa will watch your form and offer suggestions for how you can safely improve.
Tempo offers you two ways to train. Tempo Studio
is our most powerful all-in-one solution. Tempo Move
is more compact, allowing you to train anywhere. Choose whichever best suits your needs and environment. Either way, Tempo is committed to helping you stay fit and healthy with our workouts during your pregnancy and beyond. And with our 3D Tempo Vision, you get real-time feedback to help you correct your form, train safely, and make progress.
Ready to get moving? Good, so are we! Shop with Tempo