I'm overweight. What exercise can I do?

Most types of exercise are fine even if you are overweight. Being active during your pregnancy is safe and healthy for you and your baby.

Staying active has great benefits:

  • It reduces your likelihood of pregnancy problems, such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • It reduces the likelihood of common pregnancy aches and pains.
  • It helps you sleep better.
  • It reduces anxiety levels in pregnancy.

If you did not exercise before getting pregnant, it is still absolutely safe and healthy to start now. Start with 15 minutes of continuous exercise three times a week and increase it gradually to 30-minute sessions four days a week or every day. It’s best not to take up running or other high-impact activities now that you’re pregnant – your joints won’t be used to it.

Think about gentler aerobic exercise – this is a good way to boost your fitness. You could try swimming, power-walking, pregnancy yoga or indoor cycling.

You might prefer to exercise at home. If so, look for pregnancy-specific exercise DVDs.

Everyday activities that can help boost your pregnancy fitness level

If you don’t like the thought of planned exercise, think about how you can avoid sitting down too much during the day. Try these easy ideas for being more active as you go about your day.

  • Walk instead of taking the bus or get off a stop early.
  • Walk to the shops
  • Head to the park in your lunch break – start with a stroll and build up to a brisk walk.
  • Climb the stairs instead of getting the lift, or get out of the lift one floor early and walk the last bit.
  • When you’re shopping, carrying the bags will exercise your arms. If you bend to pick them up, keep your tummy muscles held in and your back straight.
  • If you have other children, walk them to school, nursery or toddler group if it’s not too far.
  • Play with your older children in the park or garden.
  • If you’re doing the housework, switch on some music and put lots of energy into it for a good workout.
  • Take the dog for an extra walk.
  • Do some gardening – cutting the grass, weeding and planting are all good ways of getting some exercise.
  • Have a dance to your favourite music. It’s fun and it’s a low-impact way to exercise.
  • Try this easy home workout

Download this Weight Management Goal Plan to set some goals for yourself

More exercise questions answered


  1. Paisley TS, Joy EA, Price RJ Jr. (2003) ‘Exercise during pregnancy: a practical approach’, Current Sports Medicine Reports 2 (6): 325–30:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14583162 
  2. 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
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Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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