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Exercise in the Early Stages of Pregnancy

By Kristin Leigh ; Updated June 13, 2017

Keeping up with physical activity during pregnancy can help you maintain a healthy pregnancy weight and fight fatigue. It also helps improve endurance, which prepares you for the long hours of labor and delivery as well as recovery. Many forms of moderate exercise can be done during the first trimester. However, certain activities will require extra precautions and others should be avoided entirely.


Exercise does more than control weight, fight fatigue and boost endurance during pregnancy. Regular physical activity throughout pregnancy will also help you prevent pregnancy-related conditions such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercise also helps ward off postpartum depression. Regular exercise reduces pregnancy discomforts such as back pain. Work up slowly to exercising 30 minutes daily to maximize these benefits.


Your body craves a bit more rest and care during pregnancy, but it is safe to engage in light to moderate physical activity during early pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, exercise will not increase your risk for miscarriage. However, you should take extra precautions to avoid exhaustion and dehydration. If you enjoy no-contact team sports, inform anyone playing with you of your pregnancy.

Pregnancy-Safe Exercises

Many low-impact exercises are appropriate during pregnancy. Walking 30 minutes daily has the benefits of moderate aerobic exercise without putting considerable strain on your body. Swimming, stationary cycling and rowing are safe alternatives during pregnancy as well. In addition, some hospitals and fitness centers offer yoga or other low-impact exercise classes specifically for pregnant women.

Exercises Requiring Modification

During early pregnancy, you can likely continue weight training activities with some changes. According to the American Pregnancy Association, exercises that strain your lower back muscles should be avoided. Your lower back will become increasingly strained as pregnancy progresses. Pass on heavy weights and use smaller weights or bands to improve tone. For cycling or hiking, stick to the even terrain of tracks and roads to prevent falling injuries.

Exercises to Avoid

While most exercises are safe during early pregnancy, you should avoid certain activities all together. Avoid contact sports such as rugby, tackle football or wrestling during pregnancy. Additionally, stay away from activities with a high fall risk such as downhill skiing and skating. You can do exercises that involve lying flat on your back before the end of the first trimester. In the second and third trimester, these exercises should be avoided as lying in this position will reduce blood flow to your baby.

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