Exercising During Pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy is a great way to avoid increasing gestational weight gain, improving cardiovascular function, reducing the risk of gestational diabetes and reducing high blood pressure related disorders. 

Many patients ask us about exercise through their pregnancy and the advise generated by the World Health Organisation is that exercise does not harm the baby.

During pregnancy we should be aiming for 150 minutes each week of moderate level evercise with 2 strength sessions….


During pregnancy your heart rate is between 15-25% higher  which means you are working harder doing all normal

activities of daily living as well as whilst exercising. This means that those of you who regularly monitor heart rate may be reading higher heart rate levels. Don’t panic!

The advice here is to ensure you can ‘talk’ whilst you exercise and using this handy scale on the right to grade your level of intensity will ensure you are not working too hard.

Aim for a perceived level of exercise of 12 – 14 (Borg Scale) which coincides with “somewhat hard”



  • Aerobic including walking, stationary bike
  • Running or Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Climbing the stairs
  • Strengthening 2/week
  • Yoga / Pilates (modified)


  • Altitude > 2500m
  • Scuba diving
  • Hot or humid weather
  • Cold – Hyperthermia
  • Contact sports

Don’t bump the bump

  • Avoid edentary positions
  • Avoid supine (lying on your back) positions after 16 weeks


During pregnancy your balance is affected due to an increase in BMI and changes to your centre of gravity. This can mean you are at higher risk of falls.

Training balance could include

    • Yoga and Pilates (modified)
    • Avoid supine positions
    • Avoid static positions
    • Have a stable surface nearby


  • UK guidelines:
    • Twice per week,
    • 8-10 repetitions involving all major muscle groups
  • Evidence…
    • Safety of moderate strength conditioning exercises in healthy pregnancy (Avery et al 1999)
    • Improvements in muscle strength (O’Connor et al 2011)


  •   There is no evidence of harm to the  baby/mother
  •   Listen to your body
  •   Adapt your exercise throughout pregnancy
  •   Keep cool and hydrated
  •   Wear loose clothing
  •   Don’t bump the bump
  •   Balance can be affected
  •   Wear a supportive sports bra
  •   Avoid standing still or lying flat

When to stop?

  • Breathlessness before or during exercise
  • Pain – including calf pain and swelling
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Muscle wasting
  • Headaches
  • Changes to balance
  • Vaginal bleeding /leaking
  • Painful contractions of the uterus
  • Amniotic fluid leakage


The benefits of exercise after giving birth include:

  • Helps to strengthen and tone abdominal muscles
  • Boosts energy
  • Prevents post-partum depression
  • Promotes sleep
  • Relieves stress

ADVICE PostPartum…

  • 150 minutes/week moderate
  • 75 minutes/week vigorous
  • 10-30 minute bouts
  • Express prior to exercise
  • Stay hydrated
  • Wearing comfortable / supportive clothing

Always consult your GP before commencing an exercise especially if you are unaccustomed to exercise. 

Walking is a great form of exercise during pregnancy