Content Map Terms

Exercising Safely During Pregnancy


pregnant woman exercising on yoga mat with child

Staying active is good when you're pregnant.  

But as your body changes, you need to be careful with certain types of movement to keep yourself, and your baby, safe.

For example, you should avoid bouncing and changing direction quickly, like the moves you make in squash or racquetball. It's also best to avoid activities that might make you fall or hurt your abdomen. These include contact sports like rugby and karate, downhill or water skiing, hockey, horseback riding and softball. Scuba diving can also be dangerous because the fetus is not protected from decompression sickness (the bends) and gas embolism.

Here are some more tips for exercising safely during pregnancy:

  • Don't overheat. If you’re in a pool, the temperature should not be higher than 26 to 28°C.
  • Don’t lie flat on your back after the fourth month of pregnancy. The weight of your baby presses on your major arteries and veins and can reduce the blood flow to you and your baby. Put a small pillow under one hip to shift the weight off your arteries.
  • Breathe throughout an activity. Exhale on exertion and inhale when you relax. 
  • Do not strain while holding your breath. This will cause changes in your blood pressure and can also create pressure on your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.
  • Use low weights and high repetitions if doing strength training. Switch to lower weights as you get closer to your baby’s birth.
  • Don’t overdo it. Pregnancy is a time when you need to balance rest with activity.

Guidelines for Physical Activity in Pregnancy

Try to be physically active for 30 minutes four times a week.

  • Drink water before, during, and after exercise.
  • Eat a small snack one to one and a half hours before physical activity.
  • Warm up before and cool down after physical activity. Take 10 to 15 minutes to stretch, and then perform relaxation exercises or mild aerobics.
  • If you become short of breath, stop the activity.

Reources and Links:
HealthLink BC: Exercise in Pregnancy

Last Updated: August 2, 2013