You Can and Should Work Out During Pregnancy, but Here's How to Do It Safely

Staying active during pregnancy can help you have a smoother delivery and make returning to your routine easier once you've healed — but if you're wondering just how much and how often you should exercise, it's best that you talk to your doctor.

You may need to dial it back if you're considered high-risk, and even if you're not, more research is needed to determine what's optimal in terms of frequency and intensity of exercise, Kendra Segura, MD, an ob-gyn in Southern California, told POPSUGAR — which is why it merits a discussion. She typically advises pregnant women who aren't at risk for complications to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days per week, or 150 minutes total each week.

What Types of Exercise Are Safest For Pregnancy?

"The goal is light to moderate intensity," Dr. Segura said. "I tell my patients to do the 'talk test," which is a measure of exertion. If you can still talk while doing the activity, then thumbs up. If you can't, then you are doing strenuous activity, which is something you want to avoid during pregnancy."

If this wasn't already clear, you should stay away from contact sports such as boxing or soccer, as well as any activity that puts you at risk for a fall, including horseback riding, skiing, and surfing. Dr. Segura also recommends avoiding heated workout classes like hot yoga or Pilates.

Instead, focus on low-impact exercises (read: nothing that involves jumping). "Swimming is a great example of low-impact exercise, because it adds to strength building while increasing your flexibility all at the same time," she said. "Stationary cycling, jogging, modified yoga, and modified Pilates are other great options."

Finally, remember that your body is constantly changing. "Pregnancy changes your balance, and your joints will be more flexible, which makes you more prone to injury," Dr. Segura said. "The take-home message is to listen to your body. If it hurts or it's uncomfortable, don't do it, and don't forget to also stay hydrated."