Can I exercise whilst pregnant?

Exercising during your pregnancy is healthy, safe and not dangerous for you or your baby. 

In fact, the more fit and active you are during your pregnancy, the more manageable your body will find adapting to weight gain and changing shape. Staying active throughout pregnancy will also help to prepare you for labor and getting back into shape after you’ve had your baby. 

Here, we explore exercise tips for pregnancy and share the dos and don’ts to help you and your baby stay as active, safe and healthy as possible. 

Keeping your normal routine

When it comes to exercise during pregnancy, it is encouraged you try and keep up with your normal daily physical activity or exercise, for as long as you feel comfortable – whatever that might be.

Whether you enjoy running, yoga, dancing, or a brisk walk to the shops, try and stick to whatever routine is normal for you for as long as you feel comfortable. 

If you exercised before you became pregnant, you can continue doing the same exercise now. The aim should be for you to embrace the same exercise routine as before to keep your current fitness level, and not to reach peak physical fitness during your pregnancy. 

If you were not active before becoming pregnant, avoid suddenly taking up strenuous exercise. You might find it beneficial to speak to your midwife or GP first about the most appropriate exercise options for you. 

Types of exercises to do while pregnant

You can do most types of exercise in pregnancy, including: 

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Running
  • Weights
  • Swimming 

How long should I exercise for while pregnant? 

When starting any type of aerobic exercise program (swimming, running, cycling or aerobics classes), ensure you tell the instructor that you are pregnant and start with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, 3 times a week. Increase this gradually to daily 30-minute sessions. 

Exercising while pregnant: Top tips

Follow these below top tips to help you while exercising during your pregnancy:

  • Ensure you always warm up before exercising, and cool down afterward
  • Try to keep active daily – aim for 30 minutes of walking each day – if this isn’t achievable, any amount is beneficial to you and your baby
  • Try aqua-natal classes at local swimming pools – these can be enjoyable as the water can support your increased weight
  • Do not exhaust yourself – if you’re in doubt about the right amount and intensity of exercise you should be doing, contact your midwife
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated

Find out more tips in our post: How can I stay hydrated during pregnancy?

Exercises for a fitter pregnancy

There are a host of exercises that are recommended as part of your daily routine when pregnant. These exercises will strengthen your muscles, help you carry additional pregnancy weight, make your joints stronger, improve circulation and ease backache:

  • Modified abdominal strength exercises such as pelvic tilt exercises
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Stomach-strengthening exercises 

Exercises to avoid during pregnancy 

There are several types of exercise that should be avoided during pregnancy:

  • Avoid contact sports where there is a risk of being hit, such as judo, tennis, squash, rugby, boxing, football and kickboxing
  • Do not lie flat on your back for long periods of time or during exercise, especially after 16 weeks. This is due to the weight of your bump pressing on a main blood vessel, which can cause you to feel faint

It is also important to make sure that any classes you attend, such as yoga, Pilates and aerobic exercise classes are safe, and that the instructor has the experience and is trained to instruct pregnant women. 

This ensures the class is completely safe for you and your baby, and they should be able to advise on certain stretches/positions to avoid, such as lying on your back after 16 weeks. 

If you took part in any of the above exercises before finding out you were pregnant, speak to your midwife, who will be able to offer you guidance and reassurance. 

Things to be aware of while exercising

There are several important things to be aware of while exercising: 

  • Be extremely careful if you are taking part in exercises where you could lose your balance, such as skiing, cycling/ climbing or horse riding – these exercises should only be done with caution
  • Do not exercise for more than 45 minutes at a time
  • If you experience any usual symptoms during exercising, stop immediately and contact your GP or midwife straight away
  • When swimming, you might need to avoid breaststroke – it can cause back pain and be uncomfortable for women with symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) and pelvic girdle pain (PGP)
  • Avoid getting too hot – ensure you drink plenty of water and avoid exercising in very hot, humid conditions without enabling your body time to get used to

Exercising during pregnancy: Heart rate

It is extremely important if you are exercising when pregnant that you don’t overdo it and avoid becoming too hot. This means keeping your heart rate at a reasonable level that you feel comfortable with. You should always ask an expert if you’re concerned. 

If you’re doing a class or working out in a gym, ensure you tell the teacher or gym instructor that you are pregnant and ask for their advice about checking your heart rate and how to continue exercising safely. 

Find out more today

If you would like to learn more about exercising while pregnant and what you can expect, sign up for our ultimate online antenatal class

Contact our friendly team today for more information on our vast range of online classes and workshops. Our expert team are on hand and ready to support you on your pregnancy journey. 

We hope to see you at one of our classes soon!