Aerobics in pregnancy
Aerobic activity makes you breathe faster and works your heart and muscles harder. It is sometimes called cardiovascular exercise.
Examples of aerobic activities include:
- brisk walking
- aerobics classes
- swimming or aqua aerobics.
Try our quick and easy pregnancy workout.
How much aerobic activity should I do?
If you did aerobics before you became pregnant, it is fine to continue for as long as you feel comfortable. Try to do at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week, over 3 or more days.
If you are new to exercise, start more gently and gradually build up to this amount. You may want to start with 10 minutes of low-impact activities, where you keep one foot on the floor throughout the exercise. Examples include knee raises and brisk walking. As you get used to exercising, you can gradually increase your sessions to 30 to 45 minutes of more energetic exercises.
Be careful not to overdo it – check that you can pass the ‘talk test’.
Tips for exercising safely:
- Check that the instructor has experience teaching pregnant people.
- If it is not a specific pregnancy class, tell the instructor that you are pregnant.
- Remember to warm up and cool down to avoid injury.
- Make sure you do not overheat – stop if you feel too hot or faint.
- Limit your exercise sessions to 45 minutes or less, to avoid overheating.
- If you normally use a step in your aerobic routine, you might want to either lower it or not use it at all.
- Wear supportive shoes and a well-fitting sports bra.
- Check with your doctor or midwife before exercising if you have a medical condition or had problems in a previous pregnancy.
Stop exercising straight away and contact your doctor or midwife if you feel unwell or have any pain.
Warming up and cooling down
It is important to warm up, to gradually increase your heart rate and breathing before you start to exercise. Gentle walking, marching on the spot or some gentle stretches are all good ways to warm up. Or you could try our easy pregnancy workout.
When you have finished exercising, cool down so that your body returns gently to being at rest. You can gradually make what you are doing easier or repeat your warm-up movements until your breathing returns to normal.
If you do an exercise class, the teacher will usually include a warm-up and cool-down as part of the session.
- DHSC (2020). Physical activity guidelines: UK Chief Medical Officers’ report. Department of Health and Social Care https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/physical-activity-guidelines-uk-chief-medical-officers-report
- NHS. Exercise in pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/exercise/ (Page last reviewed: 15 March 2023. Next review due: 15 March2026)
- ACOG (2020). Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period. Committee Opinion Number 804. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2020/04/physical-activity-and-exercise-during-pregnancy-and-the-postpartum-period
- Newton ER, May L (2017) Adaptation of Maternal-Fetal Physiology to Exercise in Pregnancy: The Basis of Guidelines for Physical Activity in Pregnancy. Clin Med Insights Womens Health. 2017; 10: 1179562X17693224.
- Yang X, Li H, Zhao Q et al (2022) Clinical Practice Guidelines That Address Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy: A Systematic Review. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health. 2022; 67: 53-68.