The Best Types of Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise is beneficial and generally safe during pregnancy – the key is to do the right kind of exercise, listen to your body, and not overdo it. 

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the benefits of exercise during pregnancy include reducing back pain, improving your overall fitness levels, and decreasing your risk of gestational diabetes, excessive weight gain, preeclampsia, and cesarean birth. 

What are the Best Kinds of Exercise for Pregnancy? 

The specifics of exercising during pregnancy can vary from person to person, and it’s important to always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Generally, the best exercise types during pregnancy are low-impact, moderately intense activities. Pregnant people should exercise for at least 150 minutes a week, the same amount recommended for all adults. This is best broken up into daily sessions of 45 minutes or less, as exercising for too long could increase the risk of dehydration, overheating, or low blood sugar. 

Even if you weren’t exercising before pregnancy, you can slowly begin a moderate exercise program. Here are some activities that most pregnant people should be able to enjoy to get their weekly exercise in. 


Walking is an easy way to get your recommended amount of exercise, and you can start right from your front door! Put on some good tunes, and make sure you stay hydrated.

Swimming or Water Aerobics

Swimming uses many different muscle groups, and the water will help support your weight, which helps prevent injury or muscle strain. You can sign up for a water aerobics class at your local pool. 

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Biking on a Stationary Bike

Preferable to using a standard bike, stationary biking is another great way to move your body while keeping your baby safe. 

Ellipticals, Stair Climbers, and Rowing Machines

Other machines can provide a variety of ways to work out during pregnancy. Make sure to be careful while using stair climbers to prevent falling. 


Yoga helps relax the body and ease tension and stress. It improves flexibility and helps practice focused breathing, which is important for labor and delivery. Avoid any poses that require you to lie on your back for an extended period. 

Light Weight Lifting or Strength Training

Strength exercises are an important part of exercise during pregnancy and can help you prepare for labor by strengthening your core, pelvic floor, glutes, and back muscles. Try some squats, lunges, or step-ups. 


Modified Pilates classes are a great option for exercise during pregnancy. These classes include modified exercises to accommodate your shifting balance. 


If you have been running regularly before pregnancy, it is likely safe to continue doing so. If you haven’t, picking up jogging is still an option as long as you build up to it and can pass the “talk test” as you jog – ensuring that you can carry on a conversation while exercising. 


Taking dance classes is another fun way to move your body during pregnancy. Avoid any movements that require high-speed changes of direction, and always let your instructor know you’re expecting. 

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It’s important to exercise caution when hiking as you don’t want to attempt anything too demanding, and rough terrain could present the risk of falling. 

Cross-country Skiing or Snowshoeing

If you have experience with these activities before pregnancy, you can continue them as a great way to enjoy the winter weather without the risk of high-speed sports like downhill skiing and snowboarding. Dress warm, avoid any terrain that is too steep or vigorous, and it’s a good idea to bring someone with you. 

Staying Safe

Pregnant people should avoid any activity that carries an increased risk of injury or falling, such as scuba diving, contact sports, horseback riding, downhill skiing or snowboarding, gymnastics, and surfing. Another thing to avoid is overstretching or stressing your joints through jumping or quick directional changes. 

Additionally, remember to consult your physician regarding your exercise plans. If you experience any warning signs during exercise, including but not limited to feeling dizzy or faint, chest pain, headache, painful contractions of the uterus, calf pain or swelling, or bleeding from the vagina, make sure to call your doctor. 


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