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What sort of exercise is safe to do while pregnant?

Written by Fiona

March 04 2021

When you’re pregnant, you’ll know how important it is to get regular exercise. So, to find out what sort of physical activity you should be doing when you’re expecting, read on.

Everybody knows that getting regular exercise is an essential part of staying fit and healthy. But, when you’re pregnant, you might need to make a few changes to your usual routine. After all, you’re going to be carrying a little extra baggage for the best part of nine months.

Naturally, when you’re pregnant, you’ll already have plenty on your plate. Be it more trivial matters, like what colour you want to paint the baby’s room, to something more serious like stillbirths caused by negligence, there’s plenty to occupy you.

That being said, exercise is just as important as always when you’re pregnant – both for the health of your baby, and for yourself. It could be the perfect way to alleviate some of the stress associated with this time.

What you can do for exercise when you are pregnant, will vary from one woman to another. If you have been capable of running a 40 minute 10k when you became pregnant, the chances are you will be able to continue to run comfortably for longer and faster than other women. in contrast, if you are new to exercise, you should take it easy. The key is to do what feels comfortable.

Why is it important to exercise while pregnant?

When you’re pregnant, you’re going to be in some level of discomfort. Unfortunately, that’s all part of the gig.

However, those typical aches and pains can often be helped by gentle periods of exercise. Simple steps, like taking a walk, can have a huge impact on your physical health, as they can help to improve your posture and relieve and backaches or fatigue you may be struggling with.

That’s not all either. It’s been well-documented that exercise is a great way of helping to manage mental health and that can be of great use during pregnancy. When you’re pregnant, your hormones are likely to be all over the place, which means managing your general mood is a little more difficult than usual – and exercise can help to combat this.

When it comes to labour and the delivery stage, being in good physical shape can help you to build more stamina and make the birth easier.

What exercise is it safe to do while pregnant?

Here’s a short list you can incorporate into your daily routine…

Walking

First thing’s first – walking! No surprises there. Walking is one of the gentlest forms of exercise you can do and it gives you the opportunity to embrace the outdoors, even when it’s only for a short period.

The great thing about walking is it’s easier than you might think to squeeze into your schedule if you’re usually pretty busy. You can swap short car journeys for a walk and, if you’ve got a dog, then you’ll be out of the house most days anyway.

Prenatal yoga

Prenatal or ante-natal yoga will help to encourage relaxation, flexibility, focus and deep breathing, which are all very important, especially during the latter stages of your pregnancy.

Traditional yoga classes aren’t necessarily suited to the needs of someone who is pregnant, but prenatal classes modify some of the poses that would otherwise be unsafe to perform. Take a look at local classes in your area and check to see whether they have options that are tailored to pregnant women.

Swimming

Swimming and, by extension, water aerobics are very popular forms of exercise for pregnant women. And that’s for good reason – it’s a safe way of exercising that also helps to loosen your joints and ligaments. The water also helps to support your body in the later stages of pregnancy when other exercise might not feel so comfortable.

The only thing you need to take into consideration when you plan on swimming is to be mindful of the slippery poolside and avoiding any diving or jumping into the pool, for obvious reasons.

Indoor cycling

Indoor cycling reduces the risk factor associated with traditional cycling, without compromising the level of physical activity you’re able to achieve. You can pedal at your own pace, and the intensity you feel as though you’re capable of, without the risk of ending up stranded in the middle of nowhere.

And, besides, cycling in the winter months isn’t exactly pleasant, right? So, why not do it with four walls and a roof around you?

What exercise to avoid while pregnant?

Contact sports

If you play a contact sport, such as football or rugby, then you will have to stop playing, at least in its fullest capacity. The increased risk of receiving a knock to the stomach means that these sports should be avoided, especially after your first trimester.

It may still be possible to do some gentle training by yourself or with others, but you should first speak to a doctor to inform them of your plans.

Sports with a high risk of falling

Falling down comes hand in hand with certain forms of exercise, such as horse riding or skiing, so it’s best to avoid these.

As is the case with contact sports, the risk of taking a hit to your stomach means that the exercise you get isn’t worth the high level of associated risk.

Exercises that involve you lying on your back

After the fourth month of pregnancy, it’s recommended that you avoid lying on your back for long periods of time. The weight of your enlarging uterus can compress major blood vessels and restrict circulation for both you and your baby.

So, exercises that involve you lying on your back are a no-go – that’s if you expect it to last for a long period of time.

Are you looking to exercise whilst pregnant?

As you can see, there are plenty of safe exercise options available to you when you’re pregnant. The key is to find which ones you’re comfortable with (and enjoy!) and do them as much or as little as you see fit. Just be sure not to overdo things – your body is going through enough as it is.

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