Exercising safely during pregnancy
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Safe pregnancy exercises
Research shows that exercise in pregnancy can be incredibly beneficial to both you and your baby – yet information on what’s safe and what’s not can be confusing and outdated. Experts now agree that if your pregnancy is uncomplicated and your midwife approves, you can continue to exercise, take up something new and get Active for 2.
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Is it safe to exercise in pregnancy?
In the past, women have been encouraged to put their feet up and take it easy during pregnancy. However, doctors and experts now agree that most exercise done in moderation during pregnancy is both beneficial and safe1. Whether you were active before pregnancy or haven’t exercised for a while, continuing or starting a pregnancy-safe exercise routine could be one of the best things you can do for both of you.
Before you start, do consult your doctor or midwife to let them know which activities you plan to engage in. And read up on which exercises you should avoid during pregnancy.
And when you do get started, whatever your fitness levels or stage of pregnancy, listen to your body. If you feel too tired, your heart is racing or you feel dizzy, stop and rest. Some activity – no matter how small – is better than none at all. Every person and every pregnancy is unique. Few women can undertake the same level of activity they did before they became pregnant2.
Dr Dawn Harper
What’s considered ‘exercise’?
Any activity which develops and maintains physical fitness can be considered ‘exercise’, and can be beneficial if carried out during pregnancy. Every woman and every pregnancy is different, and for this reason you don’t need to exercise to a level comparable with anyone else to feel the benefit; just doing as much as you can is enough.
What exercise can I do while pregnant?
There are a number of activities designed specifically for expectant mums, like pregnancy yoga. But if you love to run, swim or go to the gym, you should be able to continue your usual routine with a few modifications. Remember, some days you may feel more energetic than others, so always take things at your own pace.
Running or brisk walking is free and can be done anywhere, anytime. Even a gentle jog or a walk with the dog can raise your heart rate enough to be beneficial. Mel, our pregnancy running coach, talks us through the benefits and gives tips for running during pregnancy.
Swimming during pregnancy is relaxing for the mind and low impact on the body. Most swimming strokes are safe2, including backstroke – although you may want to avoid breaststroke if you have symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)3. Some local councils even offer free or discounted sessions for expectant mums. Meet our pregnancy swimming coach, Ali, and watch our videos to learn how to get started or maintain a swimming routine when pregnant.
Strength training exercises, using moderate rather than heavy weights, is normally safe to continue with if weights are part of your usual exercise routine. But you may need to make a few modifications. Our strength training coach, Pip, talks you through the benefits and simple routines that you can do anywhere.
Pregnancy yoga is great for helping you wind down, connect with your baby and retain strength and flexibility. With the help of Clare, our yoga instructor, we’ve created a series of videos demonstrating yoga routines you can follow at home.
- Before you start, let your doctor or midwife know of your intention to exercise during pregnancy.
- Inform your gym or fitness instructor too. They may be able to offer tailored classes, and it will mean they are informed in the event of a medical emergency.
- Ask your local council if they run any fitness schemes that benefit pregnant women.
- Read about the incredible benefits of exercise for both you and your baby.
- Make sure you’re exercising safely by reading our tips on how to adapt your routine, and advice on activities to avoid.
Get Active for 2
Choose an activity and find a workout tailored for your trimester.
- NHS. Exercise in pregnancy [Online]. 2020. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pregnancy-exercise/ [Accessed July 2020]
- Juhl et al. Is swimming during pregnancy a safe exercise? Epidemiology 2010;21(2):253-8.
- Tommy’s. Pelvic pain in pregnancy (SPD). [Online]. 2018. Available at: https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/symphysis-pubis-dysfunction-spd-or-pelvic-girdle-pain [Accessed June 2020].
Last reviewed: 3 June 2020
Reviewed by Nutricia’s Medical and Scientific Affairs Team
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
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