A Guide To Exercising During Pregnancy (Do's & Don'ts)

A Guide To Working Out During Pregnancy (Do’s & Don’ts)

Before I got pregnant, I liked to run.

I wouldn’t classify myself as a “running enthusiast” but I did run a half marathon and averaged about 3 miles per run, a few times a week.

Once I found out I was with child, I was adamant about not giving up my cardio sweat sessions. 

The first trimester was a breeze, but the second trimester gave me some trouble.

My belly started to get bigger and running became uncomfortable.

I tried supports, like a belly band, but it just came to a point where running was no longer enjoyable. 

I didn’t want to quit exercise altogether, so a little creativity was necessary.

With my doctor’s help (yes, he still wanted me to exercise), I got into cycling and yoga. Both were better for my joints and I felt less pain and pressure. 

If you’re wondering if you can still work out safely when you’re pregnant, or if you want to start getting more active because of the awesome health benefits exercise provides, read on to learn everything there is no know about exercising while pregnant.

Is Exercising During Pregnancy Safe?

In the past, pregnant women were discouraged from exercising.

But today, women are exercising more than ever because doctors deem it safe, within reason. So, yes, exercising during pregnancy is safe (for the most part). 

If you’ve always stayed active, it’s important to mention this to your medical professional.

Chances are, they’ll urge you to keep active.

But, in some circumstances, exercise may not be recommended it you have any kind of medical condition.

Your Ob/Gyn may tell you not to exercise if:

  • You have heart or lung disease
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    Your cervix has been deemed incompetent or cerclage
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    You'ew pregnant with multiples
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    You have experienced bleeding in your later trimesters
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    You're considered to be in “premature” labor
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    Your membranes have ruptured
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    You have Preeclampsia

Your doctor will be able to determine if exercise is or is not for you, based on various stages in your pregnancy.

So, as we always say around here: check with your doctor!

5 Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy

If you do get the green light to exercise, doing so while pregnant can have loads of benefits, including:

  • 1
    Increases your energy. A body in motion stays in motion. Exercise will help you get off the couch and get a little more pep in your step. 
  • 2
    Improves your mood. Kiss that bad mood goodbye. Exercise releases endorphins, your body’s natural happiness “drug.”
  • 3
    Decreased bloating & constipation. When you get moving, you keep your body’s systems moving. Enough said.
  • 4
    A better night's sleep. When you get a good sweat session in, your body will embrace your bed and you’ll be more likely to fall asleep (and stay asleep) with ease.
  • 5
    Prepares the body for labor. Your body is going to be going through quite the battle. Make sure it’s strong and powerful, and you develop some good stamina to help you through contractions and pushing. 

5 Exercises You Can Try

Walking. A nice, brisk walk can get your heart pumping and tone your body. Be sure to map out a route the boasts rolling hills for an added challenge. Walking is also great for those who were not overly active before getting pregnant.

Swimming. Swimming is easy on the body, it burns calories, tones your bod, and is a soothing stress reliever!

Yoga. Yoga builds long and lean muscles and helps promote breathing techniques which can come in use during labor.

Cycling. Indoor cycling takes pressure off your knees and really promotes cardiovascular health. It tones, torches calories, and can be done seated rather than standing, later in your pregnancy.

Running. If you ran prior to pregnancy, there’s no reason why you can’t keep it up. Doctors advise 30 minute jogs and the support of a belly or back band once your tummy starts to show and grow.

Types of Exercises to Avoid

While exercise is beneficial to both mom and baby, there are a few activities you’ll want to avoid.

Doctors advise against:

  • Activities where you could end up with abdominal trauma (like contact sports)
  • Waist twisting movements while in a standing position
  • Exercising in humid weather
  • Exercising without consuming enough water
  • Holding your breath during any kind of physical activity
  • Exercising to the point of exhaustion
  • Exercises that put you on your back—especially in the second and third trimesters
  • Lifting too much weight (determine an appropriate weight with your doctor, based on your fitness level and expertise).

Safety Tips

Here are some additional tips that will help you remain active, but stay safe:

  • Keep sessions short. You don’t need to work out more than 30 minutes.
  • Stop exercise if you don’t detect fetal movements.
  • Cease exercise if you feel dizzy, have a terrible headache, or if you experience chest pain.
  • Wear pregnancy shoes that boast plenty of traction and ankle support to remain stable and safe.
  • Keep clothes (like leggings) on the loose side. Anything too tight or restricting could be dangerous to both of you. 
  • Always keep a bottle of water with you while you sweat.
  • Never work out on an empty stomach.
  • Always notify your spouse, friend, or family member where you are going if you plan on taking a walk, hike, or jog away from home.
  • Wear a fitness device to track your heart rate—it’s up to your doctor to determine how much they want you to exert yourself.
  • Always wear a brace or belt for additional support once you hit the second trimester.
  • Stretch fully before participating in any kind of activity.

Wrapping Up

Exercise during pregnancy has many benefits.

It helped me gain less weight, maintain my body tone, it supported my balance, and it helped clear my mind.

I strongly believed it helped with not only my labor and delivery, but my postpartum recovery as well.

Be sure to strike up a conversation with your doctor at your next visit to determine if exercise during pregnancy is for you, and brainstorm appropriate activities for your medical needs and lifestyle!


Hi there, I'm Kate! I started Maternity Glow to be a place for new and expecting moms to come to for practical pregnancy advice, parenting tips, and baby care tricks.

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