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Exercise and Pregnancy

April C. Sanchez, M.D.


Q I am a very fit newly pregnant woman. I am in between my fifth and sixth week and have been continuing to exercise regularly. However, I am about getting overheated. I went for a jog/hike this afternoon when the temperatures were 85 to 90 degrees. I drank a lot of water and tried to keep my heart rate from getting too high by walking the hills and shuffling along at a slower than normal pace. I guess I am not totally clear on my boundaries and hope you can help to clear them up for me. I feel worried I might have done some damage. Thanks for your help

A In past times, in the early part of the twentieth century, pregnancy was regarded as a time of great limitations on a woman's activity. We no longer believe this to be true in the case of a normal pregnancy without complications. Physical fitness has become a very important aspect of many people's lives and this does not have to be put completely on hold during a pregnancy. In fact, physical fitness can make labor easier as well as hastening the weight-loss process after delivery. There are, however, a few limitations and precautions to take.

Pregnancy is not a time to begin a strenuous new exercise regime, but someone who is accustomed to regular exercise can usually continue to do so. It sounds like you are doing the correct thing by paying extra attention to hydration. Your body goes through fluid shifts during pregnancy and you may be more prone to the symptoms of dehydration. Also, in these hot summer months, if you want to exercise outside, it would probably be best to do so in the early morning or late evening when it is not quite so hot.

Monitoring your heart rate is also a good idea. Heart rates of up to 140 beats per minute appear to be safe. There is even recent evidence to suggest that faster rates are not harmful in women who are accustomed to vigorous exercise. Heart rate monitors can be purchased at most sport shops and are easy and convenient to use.

As far as types of exercise, there are a few limitations, most of which come into play after 20 weeks gestation. After this point, you should not engage in exercise which is performed while lying on your back or in those activities which require balance. Your center of gravity shifts and you may be more prone to an accident as a result of things like biking or roller-blading. A stationary bike is fine. Walking, swimming, and lifting light weights are excellent exercises in pregnancy. Many health clubs also offer exercise classes geared especially for the pregnant woman.

If you have any problems or complications, it is wise to discontinue all exercise until you can consult with your doctor. Certain conditions such as premature labor will necessitate a decrease in activity.

Best of luck for a healthy pregnancy and beyond.

April C. Sanchez, M.D.

Click here to Ask Dr. Sanchez your pregnancy questions.

Dr Sanchez lives with her husband and two boys ages 6 and 2 in Mandeville, Louisinana. She is a Board Certified OBGYN with a dregree from Louisiana State University Medical School. She completed her residency through the Tulane University Medical School Residency Program. She also received a Surgical Excellence Award.

Total Woman Care

She is now practicing Obstetrics and Gynecology at Total Woman Care, in Manderville, Louisiana. The Total Woman Care website, ( is an "Advanced" Obstetrics and Gynecology Practice that cares and provides for the needs of women with total Compassion, Empathy, and Understanding. Dedicated to Provide Obstetrics and Gynecology Related Information for the Women of West St Tammany Parish.

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