Is It Safe to Work Out in the Third Trimester?

Reviewed on 6/4/2021

Exercise is safe for pregnant women all throughout the pregnancy, but it depends on her comfort level and physical ability. Exercise in pregnancy has many health benefits for both the mother and baby. Up until the third trimester, she may need to modify the exercises, however.
Exercise is safe for pregnant women all throughout the pregnancy, but it depends on her comfort level and physical ability. Exercise in pregnancy has many health benefits for both the mother and baby. Up until the third trimester, she may need to modify the exercises, however.

Exercise is important for everyone, including pregnant women. But once a mom-to-be reaches the third trimester, working out can prove challenging. 

The growing baby can throw off balance, fluid retention (edema) may cause swelling, the stretched round ligaments that support the uterus can cause pain, and fatigue may make it difficult to get moving, among other things. 

That said, most pregnant women are able to exercise even into and through much of the third trimester, though they may have to choose different activities than before they were pregnant or modify the activities they were able to do earlier in pregnancy

The benefits of exercise during pregnancy include: 

What Types of Exercise Are Safe During the Third Trimester?

A number of types of exercises have been extensively studied in pregnancy and found to be safe and beneficial, such as: 

  • Walking
  • Stationary bicycling
  • Resistance exercises (such as using weights or elastic bands)
  • Stretching exercises
  • Swimming 
  • Water aerobics
  • Modified yoga
  • Modified Pilates
  • Kegel exercises

Pregnant women who were sedentary before becoming pregnant should gradually increase their exercise levels, while women who exercised regularly prior to pregnancy may be able to participate in higher-intensity exercise programs, such as jogging and aerobics. Talk to your doctor about what activity level is right for you. 

It is important for pregnant women to get enough calories before exercising and to limit the intensity or length of the exercise session to minimize the risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Pregnant women who exercise should also make sure to do so in a cool environment to avoid overheating, and they should get adequate hydration. 

Stop exercising immediately if you are pregnant and experience: 

What Exercises Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

Certain exercises are not advised for pregnant women at any point in a pregnancy, such as:

  • Contact sports that can result in a hit to the abdomen, such as soccer, boxing, hockey, or basketball
  • Sports that can result in falling, such as skiing, surfing, horseback riding, cycling, and gymnastics
  • Any activity that can cause overheating, especially “hot yoga” or “hot Pilates”
  • Scuba diving
  • Any exercise performed 6,000 feet or more above sea level (for women who do not already live at high altitudes) 

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Reviewed on 6/4/2021
References
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3730281/

https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2020/04/physical-activity-and-exercise-during-pregnancy-and-the-postpartum-period

https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-during-pregnancy