Exercise During First Trimester of Pregnancy

by Lisa Sefcik

About Lisa Sefcik


Expectant mothers were once instructed that it was best if they avoided any physical activity that pumped up the heart rate. Times have dramatically changed, however. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends daily exercise for women with normal pregnancies. The first trimester is an ideal time to establish a pregnancy exercise routine as the body has yet to undergo major changes. Unless your physician has advised against exercise, you should be able to enjoy a normal exercise routine -- and all its benefits -- throughout the first trimester and beyond.

Exercise Benefits

The best reason to start an exercise program when you first get the good news is because physical activity makes you feel better. Exercise increases your energy, helps you sleep better at night, puts you in a good mood and enhances your self-image, says the American Council on Exercise. It can also reduce lower-back pain, constipation, water retention and incontinence related to pregnancy. But you can also decrease your risk of more serious pregnancy-related complications, such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

Starting Simple

As long as your doctor gives you permission to start a fitness program, there are several activities you can start the first trimester of pregnancy that can be performed until you've reached full-term. Most pregnant women should aim to get 30 minutes of exercise a day almost every day of the week, says ACOG. Start with low-impact, moderately intense aerobic activities such as walking, swimming and stationary cycling.

What to Avoid

Pregnant women who already have a fitness program in place, and those who are trained athletes, may be able to pursue their favorite sports and activities, such as racquet sports, strength training and even running. However, certain types of physical activity are off-limits while you're expecting. These include any contact sports or activities that place you at risk for falling, such as soccer, basketball, downhill skiing, ice skating and gymnastics. Scuba diving is also an activity you'll want to avoid at all stages of pregnancy. According to ACOG, water pressure puts your developing baby at risk for decompression sickness.


Exercise is likely to be easiest during the first 24 weeks of your pregnancy, says ACOG, and more cumbersome as your due date draws near. After the first trimester of your pregnancy, there are certain types of exercises you'll want to avoid: those that require you to lie on your back. Lying in a supine position reduces your blood flow; when you stand up again, you might feel woozy and off-balance. Pay careful attention to what your body tells you while you exercise; if you sense you're overdoing it, slow down or take a break. However, if you're pregnant, make sure to talk to your doctor first before engaging in exercise to make sure you get the best benefits from your fitness program.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.