Exercising during your pregnancy is safe and healthy. You can do most types of exercise in pregnancy, including running, Pilates, weights, yoga and swimming.
If you exercised before you became pregnant, you can continue doing the same exercise now. The aim should be to keep your current level of fitness rather than trying to reach peak fitness. Here are some exercises during pregnancy to keep you safe and healthy.
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.
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.
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. Alternatively, you can use a stationary bike.
Pilates improve balance, strength, flexibility and posture. It also helps your body cope with carrying the extra weight of your growing baby, as well as prepare you for childbirth and recovery afterwards.
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 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.
Also known as aquanatal classes, exercising in water supports your bump and won’t strain your back. It is also a great way to get your heart rate up without putting extra stress on your joints and ligaments.
Exercising during pregnancy may wear you out hence 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 and exercise that focuses on both your 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.
Can I work out at home while I’m pregnant?
If you can’t get out or you’re short of time, there are plenty of exercises you can do at home or at work that you can fit around your daily activities.
Look for pregnancy workout DVDs or try our easy home or office workout. You could always look at ways that you can be more active around the house – putting extra energy into the housework or gardening, for example.
If you work, can you use your commute to exercise by getting of the bus or train a stop early and walking the rest of the way?
What are pelvic floor exercises?
Your pelvic muscles are located in your pelvis and go from your pubic bone at the front to the base of your spine at the back. They are shaped like a hammock and protect your bowels, womb and bladder. Pregnancy and birth however, weaken your pelvic floor muscles.
Your pelvic floor muscles support these organs when you jump, sneeze or cough, lift heavy things, and push your baby out in the second stage of labour.
Exercising during pregnancy is a great way to strengthen those muscles and there are pelvic floor exercises tailored to help you achieve that. It also reduces your risk of becoming incontinent (when pee leaks accidentally).
Things to be aware of when exercising during pregnancy
- Be careful when doing balance exercises like 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 for more than 45 minutes at a time.
- If you notice unusual symptoms, stop exercising and contact your doctor or midwife immediately.
- Don’t let yourself get too hot – drink lots of water.
- At 16 weeks, do exercises in which you lie flat on your back.
Don’t overdo it
When exercising during pregnancy, avoid pushing yourself too hard as this can make you overheat, which is not good for your baby. If you take care with these points you can safely continue to stay fit through your pregnancy and beyond. Check out some pregnancy exercise myths here.
If you have not been regularly exercising before your pregnancy, start with 15 minutes of exercise 3 times a week and increase it gradually to 30-minute sessions 4 days a week or every day.