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Pregnancy and exercise

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

Whether or not you exercise regularly, you may have questions regarding what types of exercise are safe and beneficial during pregnancy. Movement during pregnancy is important to keep your body comfortable and for good health such as helping preventing gestational diabetes.


Naturally you'll want to avoid exercises that involve lying on your belly or exercises that could involve a fall, but you should also avoid activities that involve deep twists and a high heart rate. Generally you should stay below 140 bpm but this is super low for people like me who are used to high intensity workouts such as bodyattack, HIIT and interval training. I suggest investing in a watch with a built in heart rate monitor. That way you can easily know what your maximum capacity is before falling pregnant.


Things to keep in mind:

- don't hold your breath

- don't get up/down too quickly

- avoid lying on your back for prolonged periods as it can compress a large vein

- choose exercises that are mostly upright or seated, and on both feet

- avoid eating too soon before workouts as this prevents reflux

- drink plenty of water during workouts


If you are a high risk pregnancy, please seek assistance from a qualified health care practitioner. If you have no reason to believe you're at high risk please continue reading.




150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week is the general consensus for pregnant women. This should be spread throughout the week such as 30 min a day, 5 days a week. The safest and most protective activities during pregnancy include brisk walking, swimming, indoor stationary cycling, step or elliptical machines, low impact aerobics and weight training. These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your body and can be continued until birth.


Choose activities that help:

- improve muscle length and tone

- pelvic joints stretch and align

- increase engagement at the end of pregnancy

- descent once labour begins


The pelvis opens better when it has been kept mobile and symmetrical. Movement, such as walking, supports flexibility. Prenatal yoga and similar static stretch exercises help improve or maintain a good range of motion. Exercising in water helps you move gently and can relieve aches and joint pressure as your baby grows larger.


If you are still unsure of what exercise you can do or need some inspiration, I have written an eBook with over 40 pages of tips and exercises you can do in each trimester. You can access this here.


What's your favorite way to be active? Along with regular walking, choose a type of exercise that brings you joy and is gentle on your joints. If that involves heavy impact then try to adapt the exercise to suit your stage of pregnancy. Don't overdo it. Keep in mind that this is different from person to person. Every pregnancy is different so do what feels normal to you. If something is uncomfortable, stop! But keep active.



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