Physical activity during pregnancy

Staying active during pregnancy can help keep you and your baby healthy. Most women can benefit from exercising during pregnancy. At your first prenatal care checkup, ask your provider about what kinds of activities are safe for you to do. Get your health care provider’s OK before you start or continue any physical activities.

If your pregnancy is healthy, physical activity doesn’t increase your risk of having a miscarriage (loss before 20 weeks of pregnancy), a premature baby (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or a baby born with low birthweight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces).

If you have certain health conditions or pregnancy complications, exercise during pregnancy may not be a good idea. Your provider will let you know. Ask her any questions you have about your health and being active.

Exercise during pregnancy can help you:

  • Have more energy and keep your body healthy
  • Gain the right amount of weight
  • Ease some common discomforts of pregnancy, like back pain, constipation and leg cramps.
  • Reduce stress and sleep better
  • Lower your risk of pregnancy complications, like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes is a kind of diabetes that can happen during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a kind of high blood pressure some women get after the 20th week of pregnancy or after giving birth.
  • Reduce your risk of having a cesarean birth (also called c-section). Cesarean birth is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your doctor makes in your belly and uterus.
  • Get ready for labor and birth

If you’re active during pregnancy, it’s easier to get back to a healthy weight after your baby is born.

How much exercise do you need during pregnancy?

Healthy pregnant women need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Aerobic (also called cardio) activity is when you repeatedly move large muscles, like your arms and legs. Aerobic activities make you breathe faster and deeper and make your heart beat faster. Moderate-intensity means you’re active enough to sweat and increase your heart rate. Taking a brisk walk is an example of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. If you can’t talk normally during an activity, you may be working too hard.

Do 30 minutes of physical activity most or all days. If 30 minutes sounds like a lot, split up the time during the day. For example, ride in a stationary bike for 20 minutes early in the day and take a brisk walk in the afternoon.

For more information about warning signs during physical activity and what kinds of exercises are safe for you and your baby during pregnancy, visit