Last updated December 2011. Planned review date: December 2012
How active should I be in pregnancy?
Ideally, when you're pregnant it’s good to aim for half an hour of daily exercise.
If you weren’t very active before you became pregnant, start off with 15 minutes of continuous exercise three times a week, then gradually increase this to 30-minute sessions at least four days a week.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been particularly sporty. Walking or swimming are ideal activities, so don’t feel you have to join your local gym. Just small changes in your daily routine can really help, such as walking to the shops or climbing the stairs rather than using the lift at work. Any activity that increases your breathing and heartbeat counts, although you should still be able to hold a conversation.
It may help to join a fitness class but tell the teacher you’re pregnant so you can have the individual advice you need. If you have been used to a high level of fitness through exercise before your pregnancy, be careful about pushing yourself too much. Expect to do less as your bump grows and accept that your overall fitness level will be lower, particularly in the last few weeks.
How much to do – the talk test
This is one easy way to tell if you’re getting the maximum benefit out of your exercise and working at the right level. Working hard enough makes you breathe deeply, but you shouldn’t get to the point where you are gasping for breath.
You should also be able to speak in whole sentences before having to take a breath. If you can say only a few words in between breaths, and can’t sing along to your favourite song, you should slow down a bit.
RCOG Guidelines (2006) Exercise in Pregnancy, Statement 4, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Department of Health (2009) The Pregnancy Book, NHS, London, 286153
Hale RW, Milne L (1996) The elite athlete and exercise in pregnancy, ‘Semin Perinatol’ 20(4):277-84.
In this section
How active should I be?
When to be careful exercising
Exercise/activity to avoid
Everyday activity suggestions
Pelvic floor exercises
Swimming in pregnancy
Running in pregnancy
Walking in pregnancy
Yoga and pregnancy
Aerobics and weights in pregnancy
Questions on exercise in pregnancy
Five pregnancy exercises (pdf)
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