Exercise for Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an incredible time for a woman marked by an amazing, and at times challenging, transformation. Pregnancy might leave you feeling delighted, anxious, exhilarated and exhausted — sometimes all at once. Common physical changes during pregnancy include bouts of nausea from rapidly rising levels of estrogen and progesterone, tender, swollen breasts, increased urination, fatigue and dizziness, and increasing laxity in joints due to hormones, all of which must be managed appropriately to avoid injury.


For those that going through pregnancy and are not experiencing any complications there is no reason why they cannot exercise whilst pregnant. On the contrary, staying active and incorporating regular exercise into a pregnancy routine offers a host of benefits for the mum-to-be. Regular exercise will help keep pregnant women healthy and help avoid pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and diabetes.

Why is exercise so important?

Exercise is important for everyone and regular physical exercise can provide many social, mental, health and fitness benefits during pregnancy.

Exercise during pregnancy is particularly recommended to reduce pregnancy related hypertension and gestational diabetes. Not all exercises are suitable for pregnant women however – so seek professional advice early.


Things to remember:


  • Exercise should be terminated should any of the following occur: vaginal bleeding, dyspnea before exertion, dizziness, headache, chest pain or muscle pain
  • Pregnant women should avoid exercising in the supine position (lying on your back) after the first trimester to ensure that venous obstruction does not occur
  • Deconditioning typically occurs during the initial postpartum period, so women should gradually increase physical activity levels until pre-pregnancy physical fitness levels are achieved.
  • Increased laxity in joints due to hormonal changes can cause injury if not managed appropriately.

Types of exercise recommended

Exercise Right recommends the following simple exercises which are appropriate for women who are pregnant:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Specialised pilates/yoga
  • Stretching
  • General strength training exercises
  • Hydrotherapy (only in early months of pregnancy)
  • Pelvic floor exercise (this is especially crucial post-pregnancy)

What exercises should be avoided during pregnancy?


  • Contact sports or high impact activities that may cause loss of balance or trauma
  • Competition sports/activities
  • Examples of sports to avoid include: soccer, basketball, hockey, horseback riding, and vigorous intensity racquet sports
  • Lying on your back after the 4thmonth of pregnancy
  • Exercising in an overheated pool



It is important to seek guidance from doctor and/or obstetrician. You can then ensure that you do not have any complications that will harm you or your growing baby.


Accredited Exercise Physiologist

Once your doctor has given the all-clear expert supervision and specialised exercise prescription is recommended by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist to ensure you are exercising right for your own uniqueness during pregnancy.

For Pregnant women who have gestational diabetes or hypertension an Accredited Exercise Physiologist can provide exercise prescription adjusted to their medical condition, symptoms, and functional capacity.

It is beneficial to be screened and guided by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist before you undertake any physical activity to reduce risk of injury, herniation, or other pregnancy related complications.



Exercise in a thermoneutral environment

If you’re currently pregnant, Exercise Right advises that you should exercise in a thermoneutral environment (somewhere you won’t get too hot or cold from artificial climates) and be well hydrated to avoid heat stress.

Extreme hot or cold environments require extra increases in metabolic rate to ensure core temperature remains safe. As such, avoid hydrotherapy in an overheated pool close to pregnancy as this can cause thermal stress on the baby.


Mums and Bubs classes

Post-pregnancy Exercise Right recommends post-natal classes.

Mum’s and Bub’s classes are extremely popular in the local community provide an excellent support network for new mothers.



Exercise in the AM

Exercise Right recommends exercising in the morning when it’s not too hot yet and you are most energetic, but be sure to monitor any potential morning sickness times and schedule your exercise accordingly.

NOTE: Generally, post-partum exercise may begin 4 – 6 weeks after delivery. If you have any concerns, it may be best to get clearance from your doctor at a post-partum check-up.