Pregnancy & Parenting

Can You Exercise While Pregnant? Dos, Don’ts & Tips

Vitabiotics | Published: 17/01/2024

Can You Exercise While Pregnant? Dos, Don’ts & Tips

We Look At Exercise During Pregnancy

Can you exercise while pregnant? If you’re pregnant or thinking about trying for a baby, you might be wondering about exercise during pregnancy and what is recommended when it comes to pregnancy exercise.

Can You Exercise While Pregnant?

For most women, who are healthy and having a pregnancy that doesn’t have complications, then you can be active and exercise during pregnancy, if you feel like you are able to. Exercise has many benefits for your body during pregnancy – these include helping you cope with your changing body shape and helping prepare your body for labour.

There are certain types of exercises you should avoid during pregnancy, and if you were not active before you became pregnant, it is not advised that you take up strenuous exercise now. You may need to slow down your exercise routine as your due date approaches.

Always consult your midwife or doctor first before undertaking exercise during pregnancy.

Can you go to the gym when pregnant?

Yes you can go to the gym when you are pregnant, but make sure the activity you are taking part in, and the intensity of the exercise, is appropriate for pregnancy – ask your midwife if you are unsure.

Make sure you avoid activities at the gym that put you at a greater risk of falling or direct trauma to your bump.

If you start an exercise class that involves intense aerobic exercise, tell the instructor that you're pregnant first and ask for their advice.

Good exercises for pregnancy

There are some good exercises for pregnancy, including walking, swimming and aerobic activity, Here are the exercises that are safe for during pregnancy:

Walking During Pregnancy

Walking is a simple – and free – type of exercise that’s safe for during pregnancy. Try starting off with something as simple as a 10 minute walk each day.

Swimming During Pregnancy

You might like to try swimming during pregnancy, as the water will help to support your changing body, and the pool water can cool you down and feel soothing. Some gyms and local pools provide aqua natal classes which are helpful for when you’re pregnant.

Yoga And Pilates During Pregnancy

Yoga is an example of exercise that can be beneficial for during pregnancy, if it is a class or method that is suitable for during pregnancy – always tell the instructor that you are pregnant first. Yoga can help you relax and ease any tension you have in your body and help to reduce pregnancy anxiety. Gentle stretching and breathing techniques can be beneficial during pregnancy. Pilates is also great for strengthening your tummy, back and pelvic floor muscles, if it is a class that is suitable for during pregnancy.

Aerobics During Pregnancy

Aerobics classes that feature low-impact exercises can be beneficial during pregnancy, if they were created for pregnant women.

Pelvic Floor Exercises During Pregnancy

It is important to add pelvic floor exercises to your routine during pregnancy. Pelvic floor exercises have many benefits for your body and pelvic floor, including strengthening your muscles and joints. Avoid exercises like sit-ups that involve lying on your back for longer than a few minutes (especially after 16 weeks).

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Exercises to avoid during pregnancy

The types of exercise you should avoid during pregnancy are as follows:

Avoid any types of pregnancy that involves you laying flat on you back - particularly after 16 weeks - as the baby can press on your major blood vessels and this may make you feel faint.

Avoid any contact sports where there is a high risk or direct trauma to your bump – avoid being hit or kicked. This includes sports such as kickboxing and squash.

Also avoid sports where there is a high risk of falling, such as horse riding and potentially cycling.

Make sure you take care when running, as the additional weight of your pregnancy bump will put additional strain on your pelvic floor.

Tips for exercising in pregnancy

Follow our tips for exercising during pregnancy:

Always Warm Up And Cool Down

It’s easy to skip warm ups and cool downs but there’s a reason they’re so important. A 5 to 10 minute warm up preps your body for the exercise it’s about to undergo; it gets the blood pumping and conditions your muscles, so you’re less prone to injury. When you’re pregnant try gentle dynamic stretches, and some light cardio such as walking. Cooling down for 5 to 10 minutes also decreases your risk of injury and post-exercise aches.

Don’t Exhaust Yourself

As a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise when pregnant, so don’t undertake any exercise that will exhaust you. You may find that you become out of breath a lot more easily whilst pregnant, even if you were fit and active before, particularly during the third trimester when your baby is getting bigger. It’s at this point that your uterus is pushing up into your diaphragm, in turn pressing onto your lungs. Feeling breathless is normal and nothing to be worried about, but if you are concerned, let your midwife or GP know.

Stay Hydrated During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, sweating occurs at a lower body temperature to protect your and your baby from overheating. Be sure to sip on plenty of water whilst exercising and if you feel too hot or start to feel faint, stop what you’re doing.

Avoid Heavy Lifting

The hormone relaxing is flooding your body during this time, loosening ligaments, which means it’s wise to avoid any heavy weight lifting. However, a low to moderate intensity strength program is safe. And can often help with excessive overarching of the lower back, a common problem during pregnancy. Resistance bands are a fantastic way to add resistance to your exercise if you don’t own weights.

Maintain Your Fitness Levels During Pregnancy

It’s best to maintain your fitness levels during pregnancy - don’t try and hit your PBs in the gym or beat your half marathon time when you are pregnant. Aim to stay fit and healthy and keep listening to your body.

Wear A Supportive Sports Bra When You’re Pregnant

Your breasts will often get bigger during pregnancy so there’s no better time to invest in some properly fitting, supporting new kit. Look for a bra that’s comfortable, doesn’t dig in, and keeps breast movement to a minimum.

Pregnancy Exercise Dos & Don’ts

Do always warm up before exercising, and cool down afterwards

Do try to keep active on a daily basis – 30 minutes of walking each day can be enough, but if you cannot manage that, any amount is better than nothing

Don’t undertake any strenuous exercise in hot weather

Do stay hydrated and drink plenty of water and other fluids

Do not exhaust yourself. You should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise when pregnant. If you become breathless as you talk, then you're probably exercising too strenuously.

Find Out About Our Range Of Pregnancy Vitamins

Make sure you find out about our pregnancy vitamins and our range of Pregnacare for during pregnancy.

Once You’ve Read Our Post On Pregnancy Exercise

Read our guest post from Active Pregnancy Foundation / Read five tips from a pelvic health physiotherapist.

Meet the Author

Gill Crawshaw

Gill Crawshaw

Copywriter / Editor of TalkMum Blog

Gill Crawshaw

Copywriter / Editor of TalkMum Blog

Pregnancy and parenting editor and writer, mum of two Gill Crawshaw is the editor of the TalkMum blog, and a writer who specialises in pregnancy and parenting. With over 18 years experience in digital content creation, she also writes the blog A Baby On Board, which covers the parenting journey. Gill has two tween-age children and lives in south London.

Payel Banerjee

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