Making a plan for exercising in pregnancy

Many people find it helps to set exercise goals to help them stay fit during pregnancy.

If you were active before you got pregnant, you can aim to keep your current level of fitness. If you haven’t exercised before, it’s a good idea to start off with 15 minutes’ continuous exercise three times a week and slowly build this up.

Ideally, you should be aiming to work up to 30 minutes of exercise, at least four times a week. If you decide to start with 30 minutes, you can break it up into ten-minute blocks.

Lots of people find that writing down the activities they have done and what they plan to do keeps them motivated. If you do this, it will be easy to keep an eye on how active you are. You can keep track of your activities by filling out a weekly exercise goal sheet or by keeping a diary where you record everything you do.
There are also some free apps for your smartphone or tablet that can help you track your daily steps and other activities.

Why does a pregnancy exercise goal plan help?

Writing down your activity goals and things you’ve already done lets you plan ahead, and you can see your achievements.

Download and print your weekly exercise goal plan here.

You can decide what activities you’d like to do, or what will be possible, depending on your work, older children and other things that are going on in your life.
It’s normal to feel tired at times during your pregnancy but doing some gentle exercise will actually make you feel less tired, so try to stick to your plan. You can also have a ‘Plan B’ for foreseeable problems, such as having to work late or getting stuck in traffic.

Your Plan B could be to do the easy home workout or to go for a walk with a friend or partner instead.

If it helps, choose treats each week to reward yourself for staying active and meeting your goals. These could be things like a cinema trip, a visit to a nail bar or buying a favourite magazine.

How can I make meeting my pregnancy exercise goals easier?

You may find that exercising with another person can make it more fun. Ask a friend or your partner if they will keep you company by walking, swimming or doing a class with you.

Some pregnant women also enjoy keeping track of their walking by using a pedometer, which is a device that counts your steps as you walk.

You can download the NHS Change4Life Smart Step-O-Meter app for your phone. It lets you set step targets, counts your steps and tells you how far you’ve walked.

Start by recording how many steps you usually do in a week and then try to add to it bit by bit.
You can add more steps by:
• walking to the shops
• getting off the bus a few stops earlier
• parking your car before you reach where you’re going and walking the rest of the way
• taking your dog for an extra walk
• climbing the stairs instead of using the lift.

Don’t forget your pelvic floor!

Make sure you give your pelvic floor muscles a workout as part of your daily routine. Strong pelvic floor muscles will help you ease your baby out and recover more quickly after the birth. They will also help stop you weeing by accident, especially when your growing baby starts to press on your bladder.

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    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.

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    Is it safe to exercise in 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.

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    Yoga in pregnancy

    Yoga is an activity that focuses on mental and physical wellbeing. It uses a series of body positions (called postures) and breathing exercises.

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    Swimming in pregnancy

    Swimming and doing other exercises in water is a particularly good way to stay active during pregnancy.

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    Strength training in pregnancy

    Strength exercises are activities that strengthen your muscles. They include the use of weights, swimming, walking uphill, yoga and even digging the garden. They will improve your muscle tone and build stamina, which will help you during labour.

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    Running in pregnancy

    If you ran or jogged regularly before your pregnancy, you can carry on for as long as you feel comfortable – it’s a great aerobic exercise and can help you to have a fit and healthy pregnancy.

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    Pilates and pregnancy

    Pilates is a type of exercise that will work your muscles and improve your flexibility without putting too much strain on your joints.

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    What kind of exercises can I do?

    Exercising during your pregnancy is safe and healthy. You can do most types of exercise in pregnancy, including running, pilates, weights, yoga and swimming.

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    Exercises to avoid in pregnancy

    There are a small amount of exercises and activities that may cause injury or other problems for you or your unborn baby. Because of this, it’s best to avoid them until after your baby is born.

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    How active should I be in pregnancy?

    How much activity or exercise you should do during your pregnancy will depend on how active you were before you got pregnant and any health issues you may have.

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    I exercise a lot. Could this reduce my chances of conceiving?

    Your ability to conceive should not be affected by exercise unless you are over-exercising and becoming underweight.

Sources

Sources

RCOG (2006) Recreational Exercise and Pregnancy: Information for you, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-informat... [accessed 23 February 2015].

‘What are pelvic floor exercises?’, NHS Choices: http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/1063.aspx?categoryid=52 [accessed 23 February 2015] (last reviewed: 3 February 2015; next review due: 2 February 2017).

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Last reviewed on September 20th, 2015. Next review date September 20th, 2018.

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