Physical activity is important for everyone, including women who are pregnant. Staying active during pregnancy can help you have a more comfortable pregnancy. It may also help reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy.
If you were already physically active before your pregnancy, it's healthy to keep it up. If you weren’t physically active before your pregnancy, it’s not too late to start!
Before you start...
Talk to your doctor about getting active during your pregnancy. As long as there isn’t a medical reason for you to avoid physical activity during your pregnancy, you can do moderate-intensity physical activity.
Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activities.
- If you weren't getting active before, start slowly. Even 5 minutes of physical activity has real health benefits. Build up to more over time.
- Choose aerobic activities – activities that make your heart beat faster – like walking fast, dancing, swimming, or raking leaves.
- Be sure to drink extra water before, during, and after getting active.
- Take a break if you get short of breath or feel uncomfortable.
Follow these tips when you do muscle-strengthening activities.
- Don’t strain to lift heavy weights. Instead, do more repetitions (lifts) with lighter weights. You can also use bottles of water or cans of food as weights.
- Make sure you're not holding your breath. Breathe out as you lift the weight, and breathe in as you lower it.
Avoid high-risk activities.
- Avoid doing any activities while lying on your back after the first trimester (12 weeks).
- Stay away from activities that increase your risk of falling, like downhill skiing or horseback riding.
- Avoid playing sports where you could get hit in the stomach, like basketball or soccer.
- Don't scuba dive while you're pregnant.
Content last updated October 15, 2020
This information on physical activity was adapted from materials from the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the Office on Women’s Health, and National Institutes of Health Weight-control Information Network (WIN).
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines Review Team