5 easy office exercises to do when you’re pregnant

Stuck at your desk feeling uncomfortable and achy? Have a go at our simple pregnancy exercises. You don’t even need to leave your desk.

First, make sure you’re sitting comfortably at your desk:

  • Sit up straight with your bottom against the back of the chair.
  • Support your lower back with a cushion or rolled-up towel. 
  • Relax your shoulders and gently pull your shoulder blades back and down.
  • Sit with your feet hip-width apart. Use a support under your feet if you find this more comfortable.
  • Try swapping your office chair for an exercise ball. Sit on a ball with your feet apart and your hips slightly higher than your knees. This position works your core muscles, encouraging better posture. 
  • If you use a computer, the top of the monitor should be level with your eyes.
  • Ask your employer for a workstation assessment.
  • Make sure you take regular breaks from your desk.

Exercise suggestions

1. Shoulder circles

Help prevent rounded shoulders and relieve tension with some chest-opening shoulder circles.

While sitting down, circle your shoulders backwards and down, trying to make the biggest circles you can. Remember to keep breathing.

2. Neck stretch

Gently stretching the muscles in your neck can help relieve any tightness.

Lift the top of your head up towards the ceiling. Then pull your chin back until you feel a gentle stretch in your neck.

3. Leg extensions

Leg extensions are great for strengthening your thigh muscles, which will come in handy during active labour.

Start by tightening your tummy muscles. It’s a good idea to do this before doing any exercise or lifting anything heavy.

For the leg extensions:

  • sit on a chair, feet hip width apart; toes, knees and hips facing forwards; shoulders back down
  • lift one knee to a comfortable height, keeping the leg bent
  • keeping the leg lifted, slowly straighten the leg without locking the knee
  • slowly return the leg back to the bent position while keeping the thigh lifted
  • repeat 8-12 times on one side and then the other.

4. Office sit-ups

Office sit-ups are good for toning your legs and glutes (bum muscles).

  • Sit in your chair, feet hip-width apart, with your toes, knees and hips facing forward.
  • Pull in your tummy muscles and then slowly stand up, taking your weight through the heels of your feet and keeping your shoulders back and down. Keep your pelvic floor and abdominals nice and tight.
  • Once you are standing (with knees slightly bent) slowly lower yourself back down into the chair with your bum pushed out towards the back of the seat, sit down and repeat.
  • Repeat 6 times, take a break for 30 seconds and gradually work up from there.
Word of warning

If your chair has wheels, make sure you wedge it - you don’t want it rolling away.

5. Pelvic tilt

Pelvic tilts will help strengthen your tummy muscles and ease back pain.

  • Sit nice and tall in your chair with your feet square on the floor.
  • Pull your tummy in towards your spine, flattening your back against the back of the chair.
  • Hold for 4 seconds.
  • Release gently.
  • Repeat up to 10 times.

And don't forget your pelvic floor exercises!

No-one will know you’re doing these pelvic floor exercises and ‒ trust us ‒ it’s worth every little squeeze. Your bladder will thank you.

  1.  University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (2022) Care of your body in pregnancy. https://www.uhbristol.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/your-hospitals/st-michaels-hospital/what-we-do/physiotherapy/pregnancy/top-tips/ 
  2.  Downey A (2020) How to avoid neck, shoulder and back pain while working from home. Patient.info 2020 https://patient.info/news-and-features/how-to-avoid-neck-shoulder-and-back-pain-while-working-from-home 
  3.  NHS Tyneside Integrated Musculoskeletal Service. Health & Fitness in Pregnancy. https://www.tims.nhs.uk/self-care/health-fitness-in-pregnancy/ (Accessed December 2022)
  4.  NHS. Exercise in pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/exercise/ (Page last reviewed: 15 March 2023. Next review due: 15 March 2026)
Review dates
Reviewed: 29 May 2023
Next review: 29 May 2026