When Is It Safe to Start Exercising After Giving Birth?

Woman jogging with stroller

When is it safe to start exercising after giving birth? The quick answer: When your physician or certified nurse midwife has seen you and gives you the green light. You may be able to start within days. But if you've had a Cesarean delivery or other complications, be sure to discuss your exercise program with your healthcare provider.

Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Return to exercise slowly—five minutes a day, increasing the time by five minutes every other day until you reach 30 minutes a day. This guideline works for walking, running, and sports. It's best to choose something simple like walking to get started.
  • Return to the activity you enjoyed before pregnancy with small increases in time and intensity as you feel able. If you experience any ill effects as you increase your duration, scale back the time and then slowly work up to increasing the time again.
  • If you exercised before you became pregnant and had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you'll most likely want to get back on the track or treadmill or into the gym or swimming pool as soon as you can. Providers used to recommend that women wait at least six weeks after birth to resume exercising, but as the benefits of exercising after pregnancy have become more apparent, these restrictions have been lifted.

The benefits of exercise

You'll reap the physical benefits of weight loss, restored muscle strength, improved cardiovascular fitness, and better-conditioned abdominal muscles. And mentally, you'll feel more energetic, have less stress, and be in a better position to care for your infant. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends women get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity after pregnancy.

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Erika Maust-Neiderer, PT

Erika Maust-Neiderer, MPT, ATC, is a physical therapist at the Women's Outpatient Center at Lancaster General Health Women & Babies Hospital.
Education: A graduate of Lock Haven University and Gannon University, Maust-Neiderer is also a certified athletic trainer. She specializes in urinary incontinence, lymphedema, and other therapies related to women's health.

Call: 717-544-3700

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The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.

 

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