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  Pregnancy eMagazine

Third trimester: Exercising safely

Continuing to exercise regularly can help you build strength and maintain energy for labor and delivery. It can also make it easier to lose extra weight after your baby is born.

As your pregnancy progresses, following these exercise guidelines can help keep you and your baby safe.

  • Avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back. The growing fetus may interfere with proper blood flow to the heart.
  • If you experience dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea or tingling of the lower limbs while exercising, lie down on your left side until the discomfort passes.
  • Take it easy when getting up from a sitting or lying position, to avoid rapid changes in blood pressure.

Injury prevention

During pregnancy, connective tissue in the body becomes more lax than normal.

To prevent injury, avoid deep flexing and extension of the joints. Avoid activities that require jumping, jarring motions, or rapid changes in direction, such as high-intensity aerobics, kick boxing, tennis, racquetball or basketball.


Sometimes called "practice contractions," Braxton-Hicks contractions simply signal the normal tightening of the uterine muscle during pregnancy. These contractions generally become stronger near the end of the pregnancy, but are not a sign of labor.

If you notice Braxton-Hicks contractions increasing during exercise, you should...

  • decrease exercise intensity
  • change posture/position
  • try a different activity

If you have more than five contractions per hour for two hours, call your physician.

When to stop and call your doctor

In any term of pregnancy, you should stop exercising and call your doctor if you experience...

  • bleeding
  • cramping
  • faintness
  • elevated blood pressure
  • severe joint pain

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Source: Paradise Valley Community College Fitness Center, Phoenix, AZ

First published: 05/09/2000
Last updated: 10/14/2007

Reviewed by: Michael Slama, MD, Allina Health Mercy Women's Health Clinic