It’s generally safe to bowl while pregnant, but you’ll want to take a few precautions to avoid putting extra stress on your joints and lower back.

It might seem odd to think of a bowling outing as potentially risky during pregnancy, but your body is experiencing a lot of changes. That doesn’t mean you have to give it up, you just have to be careful. As long as you’re experiencing a healthy pregnancy, and your doctor has given the OK, staying physically active is safe and healthy.

But there are some things you should know about going bowling while pregnant. Read on to learn more about how you can still enjoy the pastime safely.

Keep in mind that bowling balls can be heavy, putting stress on your shoulders, elbow joints, and lower back. Here are some ways to avoid injury.

  • Choose the lightest ball possible. As long as you have good aim, you should be able to get that strike even using the lower weight.
  • Try duck pins. The balls are much smaller and easy to handle.
  • Watch your step. The lanes are slicked with oils to help the balls move more easily down the lane. Be careful not to cross over the line onto a slick spot.
  • Listen to your body. If a motion doesn’t feel good on your joints, don’t do it. Sit out that round, or try a different technique.
  • Bend your knees. Bending your knees as you bowl will help take the strain off of your back and make sure you keep a good posture.

Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week (for example, brisk walking), and muscle-strengthening activities that target major muscle groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you were regularly active before getting pregnant, you can usually keep up with your exercise routine, with a few modifications.

In fact, exercise is a healthy part of pregnancy as long as you aren’t experiencing complications. Pregnant women can exercise for 30 minutes a day as long as they’re feeling able.

Pregnancy hormones cause your ligaments, the connective tissue that supports your joints, to become looser than normal. This means your joints move around more easily, resulting in an increased risk for injury.

You’ll also be carrying more weight in the front, especially in later trimesters. This will put added stress on your joints and make it easier for you to lose your balance. Your lower back, in particular, will likely feel the strain. It’s important not to put additional stress on your back muscles.

Avoid activities that involve jumping, quick motions, or sudden changes in direction that could strain a joint.

You should also stop any exercise right away if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • dizziness
  • headache
  • chest pains
  • contractions
  • shortness of breath
  • abnormal heartbeat
  • fluid or blood coming from your vagina

There are some exercises that can cause harm to you or your baby if done during pregnancy. Even if you did them before getting pregnant, avoid these activities:

  • anything done lying on your back (after the first trimester)
  • scuba diving
  • exercising in extreme heat
  • skiing or other exercises done at high altitudes
  • sports where you or the baby could get hit by another player or equipment (hockey, soccer, basketball)
  • anything that has a high risk of you falling
  • bouncing movements or twisting your waist

If you have doubts about whether or not an exercise is safe, ask your doctor first.

Women who are at risk of delivering prematurely or have other conditions that could threaten mother or baby should be extra cautious when it comes to physical activity. When you exercise, blood pumps through your heart, lungs, and muscles to give them oxygen. If you overdo it, you could be taking oxygen away from the uterus and your growing baby.

Talk to your doctor about which activities are safe. If you experience pregnancy complications, you may have more restrictions.

Before deciding on a physical activity routine, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s OK. Even if you’re used to bowing a lot, it’s still a good idea to go over safety concerns and ask a doctor for recommendations.

As long as you take the proper precautions with carrying the ball and choosing a lower weight, you should be able to hit the lanes.