Safe and healthy exercises to do during pregnancy

Exercises to do during pregnancy

Exercises are very beneficial in pregnancy. The advantages include weight control, enjoyment, better posture, less backache, stress relief, better sleep, ease labor, faster recovery after delivery and a faster return to pregnancy fitness and weight.

Healthy pregnant women who are not very active should do moderate exercises lasting about 30 minutes a day for 4 days a week. Those who are already exercising should just continue with their routine programs. Women with high-risk pregnancy such as high blood pressure, rupture of membranes should not engage in exercises.

Motivation to do exercises during pregnancy include;

Knowing the benefits of exercise can be really helpful as the more we benefit from exercise, the more motivated we are. When most people reach their weight loss goal, they understand realize that exercise really does work and that can keep you motivated. The benefits include sleeping better, feeling better and ultimately feeling less lethargic.

Create a ‘goals’ list. For example, reasons why you want to get fit or stay in shape, maybe for a summer holiday, to fit into a dress for a party/wedding, to be able to have enough energy to do ‘active’ things with your family and friends.

Exercise with a friend. Knowing that you are meeting a friend to go for a jog or to attend an exercise class will ensure that you attend regularly as neither of you will want to let each other down.

Knowing that someone is waiting for you to exercise with them is great for motivation.

Mix it up. If you get tired of the same old thing day in and day out, give yourself a change, a change in your exercise will help you keep focused on your goals.

Exercises that are safe during pregnancy include;

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is any activity that makes your heart beat faster. This includes brisk walking, swimming and various classes that you do to music.

If you’re new to aerobic exercise, start off slowly and gradually build up to a maximum of four half-hour sessions a week.


Cycling is a great low-impact aerobic exercise. However, as your bump grows, your balance will change, which could mean you are more likely to fall off.

If you’re used to cycling, you should be safe to carry on, but if you begin to feel less stable than usual it may be best to stay off your bike or switch to a stationary bike until after your baby is born.

Using a stationary exercise bike in the gym or as part of a group session is fine.


The aim of Pilates is to improve balance, strength, flexibility, and posture. It could help your body cope with carrying the extra weight of your growing baby, as well as preparing you for childbirth and recovering afterward.


If you were a runner or jogger before you got pregnant, it’s safe and healthy to continue during your pregnancy as long as you feel okay. Your baby will not be harmed by the impact or the movement. Running is a great aerobic workout.

Strength exercises

Strength training exercises are exercises that make your muscles stronger. They include swimming, working with weights, walking uphill, and digging the garden.

It’s a good way to keep your muscles toned during pregnancy.


Exercising in water supports your bump and won’t strain your back. It’s a great way to get your heart rate up without putting extra stress on your joints and ligaments.

Aquanatal classes are popular and can be a fun way to meet other mums-to-be.

Be aware

You may need to avoid breaststroke because it can cause back pain if your spine is not aligned correctly. It can also be uncomfortable for women with symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)/pelvic girdle pain (PGP).More about exercising with SPD/PGP


Walking is a great basis for pregnancy fitness and you can do it for the whole nine months if you feel comfortable.

Walking is free and it’s available on your doorstep. If you’re not used to exercising, walking is a great place to start.


Yoga is an activity that focuses on mental and physical wellbeing. It uses a series of body positions (called postures) and breathing exercises. Pregnancy yoga uses relaxation and breathing techniques with postures that are adapted for pregnancy.

Things to be aware of

There are a few things to be aware of:

  • Be careful if you are doing exercises where you could lose your balance, such as cycling, horse riding or skiing.

  • Avoid contact sports where there is a risk of being hit, such as kickboxing, football, judo or squash (though if you’re in a team you can still continue to do any non-contact training).

  • Don’t exercise at high altitudes without acclimatizing.

  • Don’t exercise for more than 45 minutes at a time.

  • If you have any unusual symptoms, stop exercising and contact your doctor or midwife immediately.

  • Don’t let yourself get too hot – drink lots of water, don’t over-exercise (see below) and don’t exercise in a very hot, humid climate without giving your body a few days to get used to it.

  • Don’t do exercises in which you lie flat on your back after 16 weeks.

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