Questions about exercise in pregnancy
Is it safe to exercise in pregnancy?
Yes, in fact keeping active in pregnancy has many health benefits for you and your baby, as long as you pay attention to the changes in your body and adapt your exercise regime accordingly.
There are a few sports which are best to avoid in pregnancy. These include contact sports, high-impact sports and vigorous racquet sports that may risk bumps to your abdomen and excessive stress on your joints.
You should also be careful about any kind of activity which involves balance; cycling, skiing or horse riding for example. Your balance can be drastically altered by the shifting of your centre of gravity due to your growing bump, and falls can be a lot more hazardous in pregnancy.
Scuba diving should definitely be avoided.
Walking and swimming are good exercises for pregnancy. If you attend an exercise class it is important that the teacher knows you are pregnant.
You should not allow yourself to get too hot during pregnancy as overheating can be a risk to the baby. A good rule of thumb is that you should always be able to hold a normal conversation during exercise. If you can't you are probably working too hard and need to slow down. Ensure you drink plenty of water.
In some cases, your doctor or midwife may recommend you don't exercise if the pregnancy has certain complications – see below.
See our pregnancy and exercise page for tips on safe exercise at different stages of your pregnancy.
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Are there any reasons why I shouldn’t exercise during pregnancy?
Some women need to take extra care when exercising during pregnancy.
Check with your doctor before starting any exercise if you:
- know that you are at risk of premature labour or miscarriage
- know that you have a low-lying placenta
- have had significant bleeding
- have had problems with your lower back or joints
- have a pre-existing medical condition
- have high blood pressure
- are having more than one baby
- are having lots of severe headaches.
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I like running. At what stage of my pregnancy will I have to stop this?
As an experienced runner it’s fine for you to continue running in your pregnancy, so long as you feel comfortable. It is important to make sure you drink plenty of water and warm up beforehand and cool down afterwards. Try to avoid your heartbeat being elevated so high that you are unable to hold a conversation whilst running.
Once your bump starts to show, running may become uncomfortable. This is due to the hormone relaxin, which loosens the ligaments. This will offer less support for your knees, ankles and back when running, which could make you prone to injury. Running in pregnancy will also put pressure on your pelvic floor muscle, so it is recommended that you do your pelvic floor exercises regularly throughout your pregnancy. Your breasts could become tender and uncomfortable, so it is advisable to wear a good supporting sports bra.
You may need to adapt your exercise plan at some point in the pregnancy to low impact exercise, such as walking or swimming.
If you are an elite athlete you will need specialist advice – the aim of exercise in pregnancy should be to maintain fitness not to reach for perfection.
Keeping exercise part of your regime in pregnancy has many health benefits for you and your baby, so long as you pay attention to the changes in your body and adapt your exercise regime accordingly.
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More frequently asked questions about pregnancy