What Exercise Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?

What Exercise Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?

Exercise has fantastic benefits for both pregnant women and their babies. However, there are some types of exercise that should be avoided during pregnancy. These exercises include:

  • Exercising at high altitude
  • Scuba diving
  • Exercising while lying on your back after 16 weeks of pregnancy
  • Exercising at high temperature. This includes hot yoga such as Bikram Yoga. Hyperthermia during pregnancy can increase the risk of developmental abnormalities in the foetus.
  • Contact sports after the first trimester. This includes marital arts and rugby.
  • Sports with an increased fall risk after the first trimester. This includes sports such as skiing, snowboarding or horse riding.
  • Sports where the is risk of being hit in the abdomen with equipment. This includes sports such as doubles tennis or squash.

Before starting an exercise during pregnancy it’s a good idea to discuss with your doctor whether it’s safe for you to do so and also your exercise experience, general health, current pregnancy situation and exercise plans.

If you’re not used to exercising walking is a good place to start. Try walking every other day for 10 minutes at a moderate intensity. Gradually build up to doing this most days and then progress to walking for 30 minutes. Progress is easiest in the second trimester as generally this is the most comfortable stage of pregnancy and complications are less likely during this stage.

There are a few situations when you should stop exercise:

  • Abdominal pain or uterine contractions particularly if they are accompanied by low back pain or pubic pain.
  • Vaginal bleeding or vaginal fluid loss.
  • Chest pain, dizziness, palpitations as though your heart is beating uncontrollably in your chest or breathlessness that is unexpected for the level of exercise you are doing.
  • Headache
  • Pain or swelling of the calf muscle
  • Reduced fetal movements
  • Pelvic pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Excess fatigue

Exercise can help reduce back and pelvic pain in pregnancy, reduce the likelihood of needing a ceasarian section, reduce the chances of high blood pressure conditions or diabetes in pregnancy and help shift baby weight. If you want to work out during your pregnancy speak to your doctor to make sure that you don’t have any of the conditions that make exercise unsafe during pregnancy. Then have fun knowing that with every work-out the future academic and exercise performance of your growing baby is likely being enhanced.

Dr Hugh Coyne