How Much Exercise Is Safe During the Second Trimester?

Reviewed on 4/8/2022
How Much Exercise Is Safe During the Second Trimester?
Expectant mothers are recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, which can be split up into 30-minute sessions a day.

The second trimester of pregnancy ranges from weeks 13-26, and as the baby continues to grow and develop rapidly, the mother will notice a number of changes. 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends expectant mothers get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. The 150 minutes can be divided into 30-minute workouts on 5 days of the week or even into smaller 10-minute workouts throughout the day.

For those just starting out, begin slowly and gradually increase activity, starting with as little as five minutes a day. Add 5 minutes each week until you are active for 30 minutes each day.

If you were active before you became pregnant, you can usually continue the same types of workouts as before with your doctor’s approval. If you lose weight, it’s a sign you may have to increase the number of calories you consume.

What Exercises Are Safe to Do During the Second Trimester?

Consult your doctor to find out what exercises are safe to do. Exercises you can do during the second trimester may include: 

  • Cardio
    • Swimming
    • Water aerobics
    • Walking
    • Ellipticals, stair climbers, treadmills, and rowing machines
    • Zumba or low-impact aerobics classes
    • More intense cardio are only for those who have been doing them regularly prior to pregnancy and have approval from their doctor to continue
      • Running
      • Indoor cycling/spinning
      • Kickboxing
      • High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
      • Some outdoor sports (also not for newbies)
        • Hiking
        • Cycling
        • Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
  • Strength training 
    • Weight lifting
    • TRX 
    • Crossfit (only if you’ve done it for years and get approval from your doctor)
  • Flexibility workouts

What Exercises Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?

Keeping active during pregnancy is great for the mom and baby, but there are some activities that should be avoided: 

  • Sports that have a high risk of falls or abdominal injuries 
    • Gymnastics
    • Skiing
    • Snowboarding
    • Ice-skating
    • Vigorous racket sports
    • Horseback riding
    • Outdoor cycling
    • Contact sports (such as ice hockey, soccer, or basketball)
    • Diving
    • Bungee jumping
    • Rollerblading
  • Activities that involve altitude changes
    • Hiking above 6,000 feet 
    • Scuba diving, which can cause decompression sickness in the baby
  • Exercises that involve lying flat on your back for long periods, especially after month 4
  • Advanced abdominal exercises such as full sit-ups or double leg lifts
  • Hot yoga and or exercising outdoors in hot weather
  • Back bends or other movements that involve deep flexion or extension of joints (such as deep knee bends)
  • Jumping, bouncing, and sudden or jerky motions 
  • Excessive or bouncy stretching
  • Motionless standing such as tree pose in yoga 

What Are the Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy?

Exercising when you can during pregnancy can go a long way toward a healthier and more comfortable pregnancy. Again, be sure to get approval from your doctor before starting any exercise program while pregnant. 

Advantages of exercise during pregnancy include:

  • Improving overall fitness, stamina, and heart health
  • Reducing the risk of pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes
  • Reducing the odds of delivery complications, such as having large babies
  • Improved mood
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Relief of back and pelvic pain 
  • Reducing fatigue 
  • Improved sleep 
  • Relief of constipation 
  • Faster post-delivery recovery
Reviewed on 4/8/2022
Image Source: iStock Images