First trimester pregnancy exercises: which ones to do

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Philippe Gloaguen
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What Exercises Are Safe During Early Pregnancy? Exercise is an easy way to significantly improve mental and physical well-being during and after pregnancy. Low-impact exercises, such as walking, yoga, and swimming, tend to be safe at any stage. In this article, we explore the benefits of exercise during pregnancy and describe activities that are safe in the first trimester.



In this article

  • First trimester pregnancy exercises
  • How to get started
  • The best exercises
  • Advice

 



Read also: Useful exercises during pregnancy, to be done at home too

First trimester pregnancy exercises

Exercise is one of the best things a person can do for themselves and their baby, and the benefits extend beyond the term of the pregnancy.



For pregnant people, regular exercise has been associated with a wide range of health benefits, including:

  • reduced morning sickness
  • sleep improvement
  • improved mood
  • reduction of stress and anxiety
  • reduced fatigue
  • childbirth easier
  • reduced risk of constipation and hemorrhoids
  • reduced risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • better ability to manage weight gain and maintain a healthy weight during and after pregnancy

Also, a person who exercises regularly during pregnancy may be less likely to require a cesarean delivery.

Low impact exercises are the safest during pregnancy. They are less likely to cause complications associated with congenital abnormalities and miscarriage.

A form of exercise can be harmful if:

  • puts excessive pressure on the uterus and fetus
  • puts a strain on your joints, muscles and bones
  • leads to overheating
  • causes dehydration

Most pregnant people benefit from a mix of exercises that work the body differently. Later we will also look at second trimester pregnancy exercises.

How to get started

During the first trimester, try to gradually establish good exercise habits. The right amount of exercise will depend on how active you were before you got pregnant.



It is best to prefer low-impact exercises, especially walking, yoga, swimming and water aerobics.

Some slightly more vigorous exercises like running, jogging, and moderate weight lifting are also okay.

Always speak to a doctor before starting any new exercises or workout routines.

How much sport can i do?

Most health authorities suggest that pregnant people get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, low-impact exercise every week. Better to divide the 150 minutes into five 30-minute workouts. 

The best exercises

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Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor exercises, work to strengthen the muscles that support the abdominal organs, including the uterus, vagina, intestines, and bladder. These exercises also help maintain control of bladder function and reduce the risk of hemorrhoids. With an empty bladder, contract your Kegel muscles and hold the contraction for 5-10 seconds before relaxing. Try to avoid using surrounding muscles, such as those in your glutes, legs, or abs. A Kegel exercise routine involves performing 10-20 of these contractions, three to four times a day. They can be useful during and after pregnancy.

Walking and jogging

Walking is one of the gentlest, low-impact forms of exercise, making it ideal for people who are pregnant. Swinging your arms with large, rhythmic movements while walking can cause a moderate increase in heart rate. Walking in peaceful, natural surroundings can also help promote well-being and relaxation. During the first trimester, gradually start taking a 30-minute walk three to five times a week.

Swimming and water aerobics

These low-impact exercises are highly aerobic and can improve blood and oxygen flow. Swimming and water aerobics also encourage muscle development and flexibility with a very low risk of tearing or injury. Newcomers should start by taking two to three 30-minute classes each week.

Yoga

Yoga allows the body to gently stretch and develop strength. It also encourages mindfulness skills that can be very helpful during labor, such as controlled breathing and meditation. Most yoga studios offer classes for pregnant people. Newcomers should try to attend one 30-minute session per week.  

Pilates

Pilates can improve the strength and balance of the heart. It can also help relieve lower back pain associated with weight gain, especially in the front of the body. A newcomer to Pilates should gradually start doing a few sessions per week, each lasting 5-10 minutes. 

Advice

The pregnant woman should do low-impact, moderate-intensity exercises that lead to light sweating and a slight increase in heart rate.

Tips for exercising safely during the first trimester include:

  • Stay hydrated.
  • Stay cool and wear loose fitting clothing.
  • Wear well-fitting, supportive, non-slip shoes.
  • Know when to train less or reduce intensity.
  • Set realistic goals and try to stick to them.
  • Remember to breathe and be aware of your heart rate during workouts.

Article sources: americanpregnancy.org, acog.org, cdc.gov

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