Pregnancy Fitness

a person rolling up a yoga mat on the floor

Exercise in pregnancy

Moderate exercise is often encouraged during pregnancy as it can have numerous benefits for both the mother and the baby, such as improved mood, better sleep, reduced risk of gestational diabetes, and easier labor. However, it's crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before starting or continuing any exercise regimen during pregnancy. They can provide personalised advice based on your individual health and pregnancy status.

In many cases, low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, stationary cycling, and prenatal yoga are considered safe options during pregnancy. However, high-impact activities or sports with a high risk of falls or abdominal trauma are usually not recommended.

Exercise tips for pregnancy

Don't exhaust yourself. You may need to slow down as your pregnancy progresses or if your maternity team advises you to. If in doubt, consult your maternity team.

As a general rule, 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.

If you weren't active before you got pregnant, don't suddenly take up strenuous exercise. If you start an aerobic exercise program (such as running, swimming, cycling, walking or aerobics classes), tell the instructor that you're pregnant and begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times a week. Increase this gradually to at least four 30-minute sessions a week.

Remember that exercise doesn't have to be strenuous to be beneficial.

a pregnant woman doing yoga on a mat

Exercise tips when you're pregnant:

Exercises to avoid in pregnancy

Exercises for a fitter pregnancy

If you are pregnant, try to fit the exercises listed below into your daily routine. They will strengthen your muscles so that you can carry the extra weight of pregnancy. They'll also make your joints stronger, improve circulation, ease backache, and generally help you feel well.

Stomach-strengthening exercises

As your baby gets bigger, you may find that the hollow in your lower back increases and this can give you backache. These exercises strengthen stomach (abdominal) muscles and may ease backache, which can be a problem in pregnancy:

Pelvic tilt exercises

Try the full body Prenatal workout below....

Yoga Stretches to try during Pregnancy

Yoga is meant to be relaxing, delivering gentle stretches to energise you. There’s lots of yoga classes around and lots of different types of yoga, but there’s fewer pregnancy yoga specialists than regular teachers. If you find a good teacher, stick with them, but even if you don’t, there’s some basic yoga poses (asanas) that you can try at home. You don’t immediately come super fragile just because you’re pregnant, and you may be surprised by how much you can bend – and in some cases, just how restorative yoga can feel. Give these a go!

​Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Stand straight with your feet hip width (or a few centimetres wider, but no further) apart. Inhale and stretch your arms up to the ceiling, straightening them and touching your palms together. Exhale and feel the equal balance between your feet. Pull your palms apart but facing each other and keep your arms in line with your ears and keep reaching up toward the ceiling. Ease back slightly at the lower back for a tiny back bend (really tiny, just a few centimetres!) and keep your arms in line with your ears. Keep breathing and when you feel you need to, come back up to centre. You may feel some shuddering or wobbling, and if so, micro-bend your knees. Don’t hold this for too long: it can feel quite intense quite quickly!

Cat/Cow Pose (Marjarisana/Bitilasana) – for the first 26 weeks of pregnancy only

Get onto all fours with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. With your in-breath, lift your chest, head and tailbone to the ceiling, sinking your tummy down. As you exhale, invert this: pushing your tailbone and head down and arching your back up (almost like a Halloween- scared cat type of silhouette). Keep doing this slowly in time with inhale and exhale. This is a great gentle warmer for your spine and may crack and click: this is fine, as long as it doesn’t hurt!

​Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana)

This should be done on both sides, so repeat on the other once you’ve done it. Standing with your feet hip-width apart, lift one foot and place it back, about 3 feet away. Keep the feet hip-width apart (or a little wider, if it’s comfortable) and keep the back foot at an angle of about 45 degrees. The front leg should be bent, with the knee above the ankle or slightly further back, but no further forward. Try and equalise your balance between both feet and then raise your arms up straight above your head, in line with your ears. Take some deep breaths here and when you’re ready, step the back foot forward to then try the other side.

For more pregnancy articles, freebies and information see our Pregnancy Hub.

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