How active should I be in pregnancy?

Being active is safe and healthy during pregnancy. It is far better for the health of the pregnancy than being sedentary (not moving).

How much exercise is recommended will depend on how active you were before you got pregnant and whether you have any health issues. 

There are some pointers here on how to exercise safely for you and your baby.

Physical activity for a healthy pregnancy

When it comes to being active during pregnancy, the more you do, the better.

If you are used to being active or very active, it’s safe to continue as long as it feels comfortable for you to do so. LIsten to your body and slow down or switch to a different form of exercise if you begin to feel uncomfortable.

Aim to be active for at least 150 minutes every week. You could break this down to 20-30 minutes a day or you might want to do a few longer sessions each week.

Do not worry if you cannot do this much to begin with. Any activity will benefit you and your baby. If you are new to exercise, start off gently and gradually build up the amount you do. 

Try to do activities that make you feel warm and breathe faster. You should still be able to have a conversation without getting out of breath and you should not feel faint or overheated.

Include some muscle-strengthening activities twice a week too. Examples include swimming, yoga, walking uphill and gardening. 

Read more about the benefits of being active, whether you are new to exercise or were active before pregnancy.

We also have information on staying safe when you’re exercising.

What exercise can I do in each trimester of pregnancy?

You can start exercising at any time during your pregnancy. If you are not used to exercising, you could start doing 10 minutes at a time and gradually build up to 30 or 40 minutes. 

Avoid contact sports, such as boxing, rugby or football, and sports where you could fall, such as horse riding or climbing. If you enjoy cycling but are feeling more unbalanced because of your bump, try a static exercise bike instead if you have access to one.

Look for pregnancy exercise classes at your local leisure centre, gym, local shop noticeboards or online.. Your midwife might also be able to give you information on these.

Find out what exercises are recommended during pregnancy.


Stop straight away if you feel any pain.

How active should I be in the first trimester (weeks 1 to 12)?

  • If you were physically active before pregnancy, you can carry on with your usual activities.
  • If you are new to exercise, start off gently and gradually build up how much you do.
  • Do not exercise in very hot conditions and make sure you drink plenty of fluids.
  • If you join an exercise class, either choose a pregnancy one or tell the instructor that you are pregnant. Check that they have experience teaching pregnant people.
  • Avoid any exercises that could harm you or your baby.
  • Remember to start your pelvic floor exercises.

How active should I be in the second trimester (weeks 13 to 28)?

  • Think about swapping high-impact exercises, like running and aerobics, for low-impact activities, such as walking or swimming.
  • If you ran regularly before your pregnancy, it’s fine to carry on for as long as you feel comfortable. Your doctor or midwife can give you advice on exercising safely.
  • Don’t lie on your back for longer than a few minutes. It could affect the blood supply to you and your baby and make you feel sick or dizzy. 
  • Carry on exercising your pelvic floor.

How active should I be in the third trimester (weeks 29 to 40)?

  • You can stay active right up to the birth as long as you feel well and comfortable.
  • Keep doing low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming and dancing.
  • You can do gentle stretches to reduce aches and pains.
  • Avoid lying on your back – try lying on your side or choose a supported upright position instead.
  • Do not wear yourself out – you may need to slow down as you approach your due date.
  1.  DHSC (2020). Physical activity guidelines: UK Chief Medical Officers’ report. Department of Health and Social Care
  2.  Mottola MF, Davenport MH, Ruchat S et al (2018) 2019 Canadian guideline for physical activity throughout pregnancyBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2018; 52: 1339-1346.
  3.  NHS. Exercise in pregnancy. (Page last reviewed: 15 March 2023. Next review due: 15 March 2026)
  4.  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.
  5.  ACOG (2020). Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period. Committee Opinion Number 804. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 
  6.  NICE (2021) Pelvic floor dysfunction: prevention and non-surgical management. NICE guideline 210. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence 
  7.  NHS Better Health, Start for Life. Week-by-week guide to pregnancy. (Page accessed Oct 2022) 
Review dates
Reviewed: 29 May 2023
Next review: 29 May 2026