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Exercise during pregnancy: How much should I be doing?

Exercise during pregnancy: How much should I be doing?
Writer and expert6 years ago
View Ariana's profile

Depending on how active you were prior to being pregnant, exercise during pregnancy might not be at the top of your list of things to do. We get it – with hormones and a baby-on-board to contend with, getting your sweat on isn’t going to appeal. Or maybe you were a gym bunny to start with and want to know how much exercise is safe?

Either way, exercise is a great way to keep in shape during pregnancy, with research showing that it can help combat a whole host of symptoms, from back ache and swelling to circulation problems and heart health for both you and baby. Plus, it can really boost your energy levels and make you feel happier and more motivated.

Things to think about…

How much exercise you do really rests on what your fitness level is, which trimester you’re in and how comfortable you feel. If you weren’t active before you got pregnant, don’t suddenly take on a high intensity regime or brand new running schedule. And during the first trimester, even those who were fairly fit and active will initially find it harder.

Let your body settle into it with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times a week. Gradually, you can then increase this to at least four 30-minute sessions a week. If you find yourself breathless and unable to have a conversation while exercising, you’re exercising too strenuously! Since everyone’s different, check with your doctor to make sure you’re doing the right amount of exercise for you.

Pregnancy exercises at the gym

There’s plenty of options to keep up your fitness levels, from the treadmills to weight training. Studies show it’s generally safe to lift up to 30 pounds of weight (or one 15-pound dumbbell in each hand), or you can try out the elliptical trainer, treadmill and stationary bike to see which one feels most comfortable.

Classes are a great way to keep fit – if your gym offers specific prenatal options, these are the perfect opportunity to take part in modified exercise routines whilst making friends with fellow mama’s-to-be. If not, you can still sign up to pilates, yoga or water aerobics, but make sure you let the instructor know you’re pregnant and keep check on how your body feels.

What pregnancy workouts can you do outside of the gym?

The gym can be a scary and intimidating place at the best of times. If you’d rather avoid them, there are loads of other ways to keep active during pregnancy. Brisk walking is perfect – it doesn’t put any unnecessary tension on your joints and you can keep at your own pace as you get bigger. Try and walk anywhere you can – to the shops, on the school run, on your lunch break. Or you can exercise in the comfort of your own home, just get yourself a yoga mat and set aside some quiet time to really focus.

Exercises to avoid during pregnancy

Obviously, pregnancy does limit you in some activities – sports such as downhill skiing, bungee jumping, ice skating and horseback riding should be avoided, as well as any contact sports where there’s any risk of being hit, including kickboxing, judo or squash. Steer clear of hot yoga sessions, as the high temperature can cause your body to misjudge its limits and cause damage to joints. Make sure to drink plenty of water before and throughout any workout.

Writer and expert
View Ariana's profile