If you are pregnant, congratulations! What an exciting period of life! With all the excitement, however, can come a lot of confusion and uncertainty in terms of what is safe and what is not safe during pregnancy. If you are in your second trimester, for example, you may be wondering if it is safe to exercise. Fortunately, with your OBGYN’s approval, the answer is yes! In fact, exercise during pregnancy can be very beneficial to you and your growing baby!
Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
If you are healthy and your pregnancy is considered normal, exercising during pregnancy is safe and does not increase your risk of miscarriage, early delivery, or low birthweight. Exercising during pregnancy can be beneficial to you and your growing bundle of joy in that it can reduce your risk of pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and cesarean (c-section) birth. Not to mention benefits that will help you feel better like reduced back pain, easing of constipation, better sleep and less stress! Of course exercise can help prepare your body for labor and birth, and even contribute to helping you to lose the baby weight following the birth of your baby.
Second Trimester Pregnancy-Safe Exercises
First and foremost, be sure to obtain your OBGYN’s approval before engaging in exercise during your pregnancy. The second trimester of pregnancy is a great time to workout, and there are ample low-impact and strength training workouts safe to complete!
Nearly all types of low-impact exercises are considered safe in the second trimester. These exercises include walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, water workouts, stationary bicycling, use of an elliptical or arc trainer, prenatal aerobics, modified yoga, and modified pilates.
When it comes to strength training, it is safe to engage in this type of exercise with some key pointers kept in mind, and modifying exercises as your body changes. For example, it is recommended to avoid heavy resistance (when in doubt, err on the side of caution and use lighter weights), avoid exercises performed lying on your back as much as possible, and really listen to your body. Examples of great strength exercises to complete during the second trimester include wall or incline pushups, squats, seated stability ball exercises (i.e., stability ball arm curls, tricep curls, pelvic tilts, and marches), modified planks, modified side planks, kegel exercises, alternating shoulder presses, pull-throughs (done with a dumbell, resistance band, or cable machine), skater deadlifts, step-ups, single-arm bent-over rows, and band pull-aparts (using a closed-loop resistance band).
Do’s of Second Trimester Exercise
- Ask your OBGYN if exercise during your pregnancy is safe specifically for you and your baby
- Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week in addition to strength training at least two days a week
- If you’re new to exercise, begin slowly and gradually increase your physical activity
- Stick to exercises that are considered safe for the second trimester
- Complete a warm-up & a cool-down– these will help your body prepare for & recover from exertion
- Stay hydrated
- Listen to your body
Don’ts of Second Trimester Exercise
- Avoid lying on your back or standing still as much as possible
- Do not engage in contact sports like basketball, football, boxing, soccer, ice hockey, etc.
- Avoid activities that increase your risk of falling such as downhill skiing, surfing, water skiing/wakeboarding, horseback riding, skating, off-road cycling, & gymnastics
- Avoid scuba diving, skydiving, and diving into the water
- If you do not already live at a high altitude, avoid activities done above 6,000 feet
- Avoid hot yoga & hot pilates
- Avoid becoming overheated
- Avoid strenuous activities
You must stop exercising immediately & call your OBGYN if you experience any of the following:
Chest Pain, difficulty breathing, or fast heartbeat
Shortness of breath prior to beginning exercise
Regular and painful contractions of the uterus
Calf pain or swelling
Fluid leaking or gushing from the vagina
Baby stops moving
When in doubt, don’t overdo it!