Tips for Prenatal and Postpartum Exercise

For healthy pregnant and postpartum women, the recommended amount of exercise is at least 150 minutes per week of activity, such as walking at a brisk pace. This activity should be spread throughout the week and adjusted if needed for medical reasons.

Pregnant women who already exercise at a more intense level, like running or jogging, can continue that activity during pregnancy and the postpartum period, as long as they remain healthy and discuss with their doctor.

Examples of Safe and Unsafe Physical Activities During Pregnancy

The following activities are safe to do or continue doing:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Stationary cycling
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Yoga, modified*
  • Running or jogging, if you did them already before becoming pregnant
  • Strength training, if you did this already before becoming pregnant

The following activities should be avoided:

  • Contact sports (i.e. ice hockey, boxing, soccer, and basketball)
    Activities with a high risk of falling (i.e. downhill snow skiing, water skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, gymnastics, and horseback riding)
  • Scuba diving
  • Sky diving
  • “hot Yoga” or “hot Pilates” because you want to avoid any risk of hyperthermia


During exercise, pregnant and postpartum women should stay well-hydrated, wear loose-fitting clothing, and avoid high heat and humidity to protect against stress, particularly during the first trimester. Women should also avoid long periods of lying flat on their backs, and stop exercising if they have any of the following warning signs.
Warning Signs to Discontinue Exercise While Pregnant

  • Vaginal Bleeding
  • Regular painful contractions
  • Amniotic fluid leakage
  • Dyspena (shortness of breath) before exertion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle weakness affecting balance
  • Calf pain or swelling

Talk Test: As long as a woman can carry on a conversation while exercising, she is most likely not over-exerting herself.

Read more here about OSHA Weight Lifting Guidelines

Postpartum Exercise

Resuming exercise or starting new routines after delivery is important to building and maintaining healthy habits.

You can start exercising again gradually after pregnancy as soon as it’s medically safe. Some women are able to do some activity days after giving birth, but it is always best to ask your doctor about exercising before you start/restart any activities.

Regular aerobic exercise in women who are lactating has been shown to improve maternal cardiovascular fitness without affecting milk production, content, or infant growth.

Nursing moms should try to feed babies before exercising in order to avoid any discomfort while exercising.

For more information about exercise during pregnancy, click here