Walking and 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.

Being inactive in pregnancy can affect your health and your baby’s health. You are more likely to have more of the common complaints of pregnancy, such as tiredness, varicose veins and swollen feet, if you’re inactive.

Staying active has great benefits

  • It reduces your likelihood of pregnancy problems, such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure
  • It helps you sleep better
  • It reduces anxiety levels

Research shows that walking to work (assuming you don’t work miles away!) is better for your mental wellbeing and less stressful than driving.

Even if you didn’t exercise before pregnancy, this is a great time to start, and walking is the perfect activity to start with. You can do it whenever it suits you and you don’t need any special kit. If possible, make it part of your daily routine – the commute to work, the school run or a daily lunchtime walk, for example.

A brisk, mile-long walk (1.6 kilometres) three times a week can help keep you feeling fit.

Walk faster than you normally would so that your heart is beating faster. If you’re planning to walk fast or go on longer walks, here are some tips:

  • wear comfortable shoes
  • stay on level ground
  • don’t walk during the hottest part of the day
  • carry water with you and drink it regularly.

You can walk all through your pregnancy as long as you feel comfortable. Try getting off the bus a stop early or walking to your local shops. If you have older children, walk when you do the school run if that’s possible. These small changes can make a big difference to your activity levels.

Why walking is a perfect pregnancy activity

  • It’s free!
  • You can do it wherever you are.
  • You can easily fit in a walk during your lunch break at work.
  • You can walk on your own or with friends.
  • It’s low impact, so you can do it right up to your due date if you feel okay.
  • If you work too far from home to walk all the way, you could get off the bus or train a stop early and walk the rest of the way.
  • You can continue after the birth, taking your baby out and about in the pram.

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.

Download and print your weekly exercise goal plan

More about exercise and pregnancy


  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. CEDAR (2014) Walking or cycling to work improves wellbeing, University of East Anglia researchers find’, Norwich, University of East Anglia and Centre for Diet and Activity Research: http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2014/september/active-commuting-benefits
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Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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