Experts agree that exercise is safe in pregnancy and improves the health of both the mother and the baby.
You can prepare your body for the challenges of pregnancy, labour and being a mum by staying active and keeping yourself healthy.
If you weren't very active before your pregnancy, don't worry. There are lots of small changes you can make in your day-to-day life that will make a big difference to your health and your baby's. Physical activity includes any activity you do in your daily routine, such as taking the stairs, doing housework or walking to work. It doesn't have to mean planned exercise, although if that's what you enjoy there are plenty of options for you to choose from.
How active should I be?
Aim for half an hour of activity every day - but you don't have to do it all at the same time. If you weren't very active before you were pregnant, try to start off with 15 minutes of non-stop activity three times a week. Gradually increase this to 30 minutes five times a week. This can be as easy as going for a walk for 30 minutes.
What are the benefits of being active in pregnancy?
Being active regularly is great for you and your baby in lots of ways:
- It will make you feel good and give you more energy
- It will help you to sleep better
- You're likely to have fewer aches and pains
- It can help you and your baby during labour and birth
- It will help reduce your risk of some pregnancy problems, including constipation
- You will be less likely to put on extra weight during the pregnancy
- It can reduce levels of anxiety and depression in pregnancy
Is it safe to exercise now I'm pregnant?
Yes, if you are having a normal uncomplicated pregnancy it is safe to exercise. There are some situations that mean you need to take care about being active. If you have any serious medical conditions or health problems, or if you've had problems during a previous pregnancy, talk to your doctor or midwife about what activities are safe for you. If you have any bleeding from your vagina, you should also seek advice before exercising.
Find out more about when to be careful about being active in pregnancy.
Keep moving right through your pregnancy!
Any activity or movement is better than sitting or standing for long periods. Try to avoid sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time if you can. Get up and walk around, make a cup of tea, or go and get a glass of water. If you're working at a desk, it's important to get up and move around regularly, even if it is just to walk around the office.
Most pregnant women have times when they feel very tired but being active can give energy rather than taking it away. You may find that going on a short five-minute walk can give you more energy and allow you to walk a little further.
Top tips for being active in pregnancy
- Wear shoes that support your ankles, which can twist more easily in pregnancy. Low heels or no heels are best, and you should avoid high heels altogether.
- Wear a good supportive bra.
- Dress in loose, comfortable clothing as this will make being active more enjoyable and will stop you getting too hot.
- Drink plenty of water, especially when it's warm. Have a glass of water before you start and take a bottle of water with you.
- On hot days, go out walking in the early morning or evening when it's cooler.
- If it's raining, plan some indoor activities, such as our easy pregnancy workout.
Most pregnant women have times when they feel very tired but being active can give energy rather than taking it away.
The randomised trial included 508 healthy pregnant women and looked at how exercise could affect the amount of time spent in labour.
Emily shares how staying active through pole dancing and yoga has helped her cope with the physical and mental challenges of pregnancy.
Maternity fitnesswear specialists, FittaMamma have launched a ‘Pregnant Not Powerless’ campaign to raise awareness of just how important it is to exercise regularly throughout pregnancy.
- 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
- Clapp JF (1990) ‘The course of labor after endurance exercise during pregnancy’ American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 163 (6 Pt 1): 1799–805:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2256485
ℹLast reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.