Exercise for a healthy pregnancy
There are many physical and mental benefits of an active pregnancy.
Even if you did no exercise before you got pregnant, it’s important to exercise now for a healthy pregnancy. Try to be active every day if you can. Even small things can make a difference, like walking to your local shops instead of driving or getting the bus.
Ideally, it’s good to aim for half an hour of activity every day but you don’t have to do it all at once. If you weren’t very active before you were pregnant, try to exercise safely.
You don’t have to be sporty to be active and you don’t need to join your local gym or exercise classes – just small changes in your daily routine can really help.
Begin with 15 minutes of non-stop activity three times a week. Increase this gradually to 30 minutes, 5 times a week. This can be as easy as going for a 30-minute walk.
If you can’t manage this much exercise, don’t worry – and don’t be put off. Any amount of activity is better than none.
If it helps, just think about being active every day rather than worrying about times and types of exercise. The main thing is to stay active as much as possible, doing things that make your heart beat faster.
Any activity that increases your heart rate and breathing counts. For example, you could try walking to the shops or climbing the stairs instead of using the lift at work.
Find an activity you enjoy
Making your exercise routine fun, or asking your partner or friend to join you, will help you stick with it.
Set yourself targets and reward your efforts. You could make an exercise goal plan to work out what you’re going to do, when, and how you’ll treat yourself afterwards.
If it helps, try stopping yourself from watching TV or checking your phone until after you’ve been for a walk or done a quick and easy pregnancy workout at home.
You don’t have to be exhausted by exercise to benefit from it. The goal is to build up to and keep a good level of fitness throughout your pregnancy.
Safe exercise in pregnancy
- Check with your doctor or midwife if you plan to start a new form of exercise.
- Always stop if something hurts, even if you’re used to being active.
- If you join an exercise class that isn’t just for pregnant women, tell the teacher you’re pregnant so you can get the advice you need.
- If you did a lot of exercise before you were pregnant, for example if you were a runner, you can keep it up as long as you feel comfortable.
- Avoid overheating.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Make sure you can pass the 'talk test'
What is the talk test?
The talk test is an easy way to tell if you’re doing the right amount of activity while pregnant and getting the most benefit from safe exercise.
- You should be doing enough to make you breathe deeply but you shouldn’t have to gasp for breath.
- If you can say a whole sentence before having to take a breath, you’re getting your activity level about right.
- If you can only say a few words between breaths, ease off a bit.
Find out more about when to stop exercising in pregnancy.
What exercise can I do in each trimester of pregnancy?
You can start exercising at any time during your pregnancy. Even if you’re used to being active, you’ll need to adapt your activities a bit as your bump gets bigger.