If you did aerobics before you became pregnant, it’s fine to continue now that you are pregnant. Aerobics is great for your heart and lungs and improves muscle strength, it is safe to do and can help you to have a fit pregnancy.
If you are new to aerobics, tell the instructor that you are pregnant and start with just 15 minutes' continuous safe exercise three times a week. Increase this gradually to a maximum of four 30-minute sessions a week.
If you stick to low-impact routines you can usually continue for most of your pregnancy – as long as you feel comfortable. Low impact means always keeping at least one foot on the ground, for example, marching or knee raises instead of jogging or jumping. You'll probably find that you naturally slow down a bit as you reach the last few months of your pregnancy.
What happens when I do aerobics in pregnancy?
Any kind of aerobic exercise in pregnancy will make you breathe harder and your heart will beat more quickly. Because your heart is beating faster, the blood goes round your body more quickly, which means that your muscles receive more oxygen.
Because you also breathe deeper, there is extra oxygen coming into your body, so you don’t have to worry about baby, he or she will still get all the oxygen they need. When you do aerobic exercise in pregnancy, check that you're not overdoing it by trying the talk test every so often.
Tips for safe pregnancy aerobics
- Tell the instructor you are pregnant or look for a exercise class specifically for pregnant women.
- Make sure you take things gently at first, especially if you're new to exercise, and build up gradually.
- Make sure you don't overheat. Avoid exercising anywhere where it’s very warm, wear cool clothing and drink plenty of water. If you feel too hot, stop and rest.
- Always keep one foot on the floor and avoid sudden movements or changes in direction.
- If you normally use a step in your aerobic routine, you might want to either lower it or not use it at all. Make sure you wear supportive shoes and a well-fitting sports bra.
- It's fine to carry on with low-impact aerobics for as long as you feel comfortable.
Make sure you warm up and cool down when you exercise in pregnancy
It's important to warm up before you start to exercise, so your body has a chance to get used to being more active. When you've finished exercising, cool down so that your body returns gently to being at rest. Warming up and cooling down when you exercise means you're less likely to hurt yourself or overdo it.
If you do an exercise class, the teacher is likely to include a warm up and cool down as part of the session. If you're exercising on your own, you should do a five- to ten-minute warm-up. Something like a medium-paced walk, marching on the spot or some gentle toe taps and side steps are all good ways to gradually increase your heart rate and warm your muscles.
At the end of the session, cool down by gradually making what you are doing easier or repeat what you did for the warm up until your breathing returns to normal.
Many people find it helps to set exercise goals to help them stay fit during pregnancy.
Yes it is. In fact, if your pregnancy is uncomplicated, it is safer to exercise than not to as it brings down the risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.
Questions about exercise in pregnancy
Walking is a safe and simple way to stay active during pregnancy. It’s the perfect activity to start with if you’re not used to exercise.
- RCOG (2006) Exercise in Pregnancy: Statement No. 4, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/statements/statement-no-4.pdf [accessed 23 February 2015].
- NHS Choices [accessed 23 February 2015] ‘Exercise in pregnancy’, : http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-exercise.aspx
ℹLast reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.