So you’ve recently found out you’re pregnant. Congratulations! The first trimester of pregnancy is such an exciting time, but it can also bring on a slew of uncomfortable symptoms as your body acclimates to its new houseguest.
One of the first questions many people wonder—probably after wondering how long morning sickness will last—is, “Can I still exercise in my first trimester?” Many people worry that physical activity could harm their baby or worry that the discomforts of early pregnancy mean that they shouldn’t be exercising.
For all you fitness buffs, or those just looking to have a healthy pregnancy, I have great news: staying active during your first trimester is not only safe, it’s encouraged! In fact, making movement part of your everyday routine is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby. There are, however, some caveats, so let’s start breaking it all down.
Exercising during your first trimester
Okay, let’s get real here for a second: for many people, the first trimester is just about getting through it. At this point in your pregnancy, you probably aren’t noticing any visible changes in your body, but lots of things are happening within you. By 5-6 weeks gestation, the volume of blood pumped out by the heart increases and your blood pressure typically decreases. Hormonal changes are also occurring which help grow and support the pregnancy in a number of ways. These changes can make you feel dizzy, nauseous, low energy, and simply blah.
As much as you might not feel like exercising during your first trimester, it might actually help you feel better if approached correctly.
How intensely can I exercise in my first trimester?
The general rule for exercising in your first trimester is to embrace a slow and steady approach to fitness. Stick to low-impact, moderate-intensity exercise that leads to light sweating and a slight increase in heart rate.
It also depends on how active you were before getting pregnant. If you’re a seasoned runner, you can safely continue to run, but you should be mindful of not getting your core temperature too high, as temperatures over 101 can be unsafe for fetuses. Take it easier now than you did pre-pregnancy and don’t push it past a light sweat.
If you weren’t active before pregnancy, now is not the time to train for a weight lifting competition or run a marathon. Slowly build up to 30 minutes of gentle activity 3-5 times a week at a rate that feels comfortable to you.
What types of exercises are good during the first trimester?
There are a number of low-impact, moderate-intensity forms of exercise to consider during your first trimester. These include walking, swimming, stationary cycling, using the elliptical, yoga, Pilates, low-impact aerobics, or using light free weights. Feel free to mix it up and try different things, but just be mindful of how you’re feeling. Take it slow and if you’re feeling too unwell some days, don’t pressure or push yourself.
Things to keep in mind when exercising in your first trimester
Now that we have a good idea of what type of exercises are considered okay, let’s cover some more general recommendations to ensure your fitness routine is as safe and productive as possible.
• Get your doctor’s permission before starting a fitness routine.
• Make sure you’re hydrated and have had a good snack an hour before exercise.
• Remember to breathe.
• Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard.
• Exercise in a cool environment and avoid exercising in the heat.
• Use common sense—no contact sports, competitive events, sharp movements, or activates with a risk of falling.
• Aim for 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week.
The bottom line
Exercising is healthy and safe during your first trimester, within certain limits. If you feel like you’re overdoing it, you probably are. Your body is growing a human, and that’s a pretty huge feat, so take care of yourself and stay within safe limits. Oh, and have fun! Engaging in exercise you love makes everything so much more enjoyable and is great for your physical and mental health.
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