There are plenty of exercises that are great for pregnant women. In fact, most physical activity is perfectly safe during pregnancy. However there are a few exercises you’ll want to avoid:
- Sports that carry a higher risk of falling or abdominal injury, like gymnastics, downhill skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, vigorous racket sports (play doubles instead of singles), horseback riding, outdoor cycling, contact sports (such as ice hockey, soccer or basketball), diving, bungee jumping and rollerblading.
- Sports that involve altitude change. Unless you're living in high altitudes already, avoid any activity that takes you up more than 6,000 feet. On the flip side, scuba diving, which poses a risk of decompression sickness for your baby, is also off-limits, so wait until you're no longer pregnant for your next dive.
- Exercises that involve lying flat on your back for long periods of time are off-limits after the fourth month, since the weight of your enlarging uterus could compress major blood vessels and restrict circulation to you and your baby. That, in turn, could make you feel nauseous, dizzy and short of breath.
- Advanced abdominal moves, like full sit-ups or double leg lifts, can pull on the abdomen, so they're best avoided when you're expecting.
- Hot yoga or exercise in super hot weather: Any exercise or environment that raises your body temperature more than 1.5 degrees F should be avoided, since it causes blood to be shunted away from your uterus and to your skin as your body attempts to cool off. That means staying out of saunas, steam rooms and hot tubs, too.
- Back bends or other contortions, as well as movements that involve deep flexion or extension of joints (like deep knee bends), can increase your risk of injury.
- Jumping, bouncing and sudden, jerky motions are best avoided (although otherwise aerobic activity is perfectly safe so as long as you’re comfortable and can easily keep your balance).
- Excessive or bouncy stretching. Since your ligaments are already looser, pregnancy isn’t the time to force a split or progress your yoga practice. If something hurts, stop.
- Holding your breath is never recommended during pregnancy. Both you and your baby need a constant flow of oxygen.
- Motionless standing after the first trimester can restrict blood flow, so avoid these types of movements in yoga (like tree, or extended hand to big toe) and tai chi.
When pregnant, it is good to exercise – but it is also important to keep in mind things one should and should not do!