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Exercising during pregnancy

Exercising during pregnancy will be safe and healthy for you and your baby, it’ll help you to maintain a healthy weight, prepare your body for labour and lay the foundations for you to get back in shape after the birth.

For as long as you feel comfortable, you can keep up your usual exercise routine – this might be walking, yoga or running. Just try not to exhaust yourself, and remember that exercise doesn’t have to be too tiring in order to be beneficial.

As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise whilst pregnant. If you are breathless whilst speaking, then you might be exercising a little too strenuously.

Listen to your body, particularly if you’re not usually active. If this is the case, try gradually building up from 10 minutes of daily activity (such as a walk). Don’t immediately take up strenuous or high intensity exercises. If you’re used to certain exercises, such as running, then you can keep them up as long as you feel comfortable doing so. Just don’t take part in any contact sports or exercise where there is a risk of being hit or falling over, as this can risk damage to your baby’s health.

Although exercise is not dangerous for your baby, you may feel the need to slow down as your pregnancy progresses.

Exercises to avoid

  • Don’t take part in any contact sport where there is a risk of being hit, such as martial arts or football.
  • Don’t go scuba diving, your baby has no protection against decompression sickness and can develop gas bubbles in the bloodstream.
  • Don’t do any exercise at heights of over 2,500m above sea level, doing so will put yourself and your baby at risk of altitude sickness.
  • Try not to lie flat on your back for long periods of time, when you do this the weight of your bump presses on the main blood vessel bringing blood back to your heart (which can make you feel faint).
  • Avoid strenuous exercise in hot weather.

Pregnancy exercise top tips

  • It’s really important to warm up properly before exercise and to cool down afterwards. Take five to ten minutes before and after exercise to do some light aerobic activity and stretches.
  • Keep well hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Try to keep active on a daily basis, any amount of exercise is better than doing nothing.
  • Swimming is a good exercise to try because of how the water will support and help to carry your increased weight. Some swimming pools put on aqua-natal classes with qualified instructors, you can find your local swimming pool here.
  • If you go to any other exercise classes, make sure your instructor is fully qualified and knows how many weeks pregnant you are.

There are some easy exercises you can do that will help to strengthen your body ready for pregnancy, improve your circulation and help you to feel well. Take a look at our exercises for a fitter pregnancy here.

Useful links

NHS- Exercise in pregnancy

Page last reviewed: 23-02-2022

Next review due: 23-02-2025