Is Exercise Bad in the First Weeks of Pregnancy?

Woman practicing yoga outdoors, side view (selective focus)
Moderate exercise in early pregnancy can do wonders for your body. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

If you just found out you're pregnant, you're probably anxious to do everything you can to keep your baby healthy--and avoid anything that might put him at risk. There are plenty of conflicting opinions about the safety of exercise during pregnancy and this can cause serious worry in fitness-minded moms-to-be. Fortunately, as long as you follow some basic guidelines, exercise is perfectly safe in the first trimester and can go a long way in making a healthier and more comfortable pregnancy.

Benefits

When done safely, exercise is one the best ways to deal with the discomforts that many pregnant women experience during the first trimester of pregnancy. Regular exercise can help prevent constipation, swelling, varicose veins, hemorrhoids and leg cramps as well as improve your energy level and help you sleep better, reports the American Pregnancy Association. It can also help you control your weight gain and build your strength and endurance for labor and delivery.

Recommendations

Exercise itself isn't dangerous during the early weeks of pregnancy, although all women should discuss exercise with their doctors before starting or continuing a workout regimen. When deciding how to exercise, focus on staying active and maintaining your strength rather than making major improvements to your level of fitness; pregnancy isn't the time to push your body beyond its comfort zone. One thing to watch for during your first trimester is overheating; your baby is developing her major organs during these early weeks and some animal studies have shown that a too-high body temperature can cause birth defects, according to BabyCenter. Keep your body temperature below 101 degrees Fahrenheit and be aware that you may get warmer more quickly than usual during pregnancy, thanks to an increase in blood flow and metabolism. Too-strenuous exercise can also decrease your baby's flow of oxygen, since exercise causes oxygen to be diverted away from the internal organs to deliver more toward your muscles, lungs and heart.

Exercises To Avoid

With a doctor's permission, most women with healthy pregnancies can continue with their usual workout routine in the first trimester. However, you should avoid any activity that could cause trauma to your abdomen by way of a fall or collision, such as skiing, contact sports, horseback riding, biking, gymnastics and climbing. If you choose to lift weights, take extra care to make sure a weight doesn't fall on your belly and consider using resistance bands instead of dumbbells and barbells for the duration of your pregnancy.

Suggested Activities

No matter your fitness level, there are certain exercises that virtually all women with healthy pregnancies can enjoy. Walking, swimming, dancing and low-impact aerobics are easy to customize to your own comfort level and are unlikely to result in a dangerous fall.

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