Get your Coach

A guide to exercise during pregnancy


Pregnancy is truly transformational – for your mind, body, and for your exercise regime. It’s an emotional, mental, and physical journey where there is no shortage of advice and opinions on topics like birth, motherhood, nutrition, and yes, even workouts. You’re constantly flooded with conflicting information that can be difficult to navigate or know where to begin.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for personalized medical advice. It's advised that you consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Our goal is to dispel some of the myths associated with exercise during pregnancy so you can make the most informed choice for yourself, your body, and your baby.

Can I exercise during pregnancy?

Say it louder for the people in the back – yes! Exercise during pregnancy is safe and offers a multitude of benefits. In the past, pregnant women were confined to bed rest or advised to minimize physical activity. However, modern research suggests that the benefits of exercise during a healthy, low-risk pregnancy far outweigh the risks.

In addition to helping pregnant women cope with the physical changes and ailments that come along with a changing body, regular exercise can also help with labor and postpartum recovery.

Of course, as with any fitness regime, it’s important to listen to your body when exercising during pregnancy and never push yourself too hard.

But what kind of exercise can you do, and what should you avoid? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty and debunk some of the myths associated with exercise during pregnancy for good.

Myth #1: Women should reduce their physical activity during pregnancy

If you’re pregnant right now, chances are your doctor or nurse has simply told you to continue doing what you’re doing. That’s not always helpful or informative.

If you’re not super active, there can be some drawbacks to maintaining this during pregnancy. A sedentary lifestyle during pregnancy can increase the risk of an unfavorable experience, as research suggests it may impact both the mother and the baby.

For example, a 2012 study found that active pregnant women experience less weight gain during pregnancy.1 This is significant because a substantial weight gain during pregnancy can introduce a range of new ailments and health challenges. This type of setback can be frustrating when you are rushing to finish everything before the baby's arrival.

On the flip side, if you took part in intense exercise before pregnancy, you might hesitate to maintain these activities. It's generally safe to continue your usual exercise routine during pregnancy, although you may need to bring the intensity down a notch.

If you participate in contact sports or activities that could increase your chance of falling, then you may need to adapt to a different activity, just for safety.3

Otherwise, keep doing you and moving your body to feel good – your future you and baby will thank you.

Myth #2: Pregnant women shouldn’t start a new exercise regime

Although it’s not advised to start something extreme like a HIIT routine or begin training for a marathon, there are plenty of exercises that can be beneficial during pregnancy.

If you are going to begin exercising during pregnancy, aerobic exercise is generally considered to be the best type. Common examples include:

  • Walking
  • Indoor cycling
  • Swimming
  • Aerobic dance
  • Yoga

If you are considering joining a new class or taking up a new activity, inform your instructor of your pregnancy and which stage you’re in, or speak to your health team for advice on modifications.

Myth #3: Pregnant women can’t exercise their core

Many women are worried about working their abs or their core muscles for fear it may damage their pelvic floor or lead to diastasis recti or abdominal separation.

While you won’t want to be hitting the crunches hard, there are several core exercises that are safe and beneficial. Better yet, these exercises may help to relieve backache and prepare your body for labor and recovery – that’s definitely a win in any mom-to-be’s book!

One watch-out: you should avoid lying flat on your back for long periods, especially during the second and third trimesters. This can increase pressure on the main blood vessel transporting blood back to your heart, and can cause dizziness.

Some safe core exercises may include:

  • Cat-Cow
  • Modified plank
  • Core breathing
  • Pelvic tilt exercises

Myth #4: Pregnant women shouldn’t run or do high-intensity exercises

This varies from woman to woman, but if you’ve been running up until your pregnancy, you should be able to continue doing so. Recent research shows that continuing to run during pregnancy does not affect the baby’s birth weight or increase the risk of preterm delivery.4

That said, you should listen to your body and pay attention to any cues it may be giving you to stop or change activity. Look out for things like:

  • Hip or back pain
  • Loss of bladder control
  • A feeling of “heaviness” on your pelvic floor
  • Inability to hold a conversation while exercising (breathlessness while exercising during pregnancy can suggest you’re exercising too hard)

You should also avoid overheating or becoming dehydrated, as this can be stressful for the growing fetus. A study published in 2017 examined the effects of exercise on fetal heart rate and uterine contractions and found that warm weather increased fetal heart rate. They also found that exercising for more than 45 minutes increased the core temperature of both the mother and fetus and could cause uterine contractions.5

Therefore, it’s best to avoid exercising too hard or in warm temperatures and stay hydrated by taking sips of water throughout the day.

What are the benefits of exercise during pregnancy?

Exercise during pregnancy should be encouraged because it can have positive effects on both you and your baby.

Some of the key benefits include:

  • Reducing blood sugar levels
  • Lowering the risk of C-section or instrument-assisted births
  • Reducing weight gain
  • Improved mood
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Improved labor experience

Exercising during pregnancy isn’t just about staying in shape, it’s also about promoting your health and the health of your unborn baby. The activities you participate in during exercise can prepare your body for labor, promote endurance, and assist delivery.

Let’s recap

Pregnancy is a truly unique chapter in a woman's life that involves so many changes, both physically and mentally, in a short amount of time. It's crucial to debunk myths about exercising during this period and approach fitness with informed and gentle guidance.

Every woman is different, and so too are her experiences, so listen to your body and consult the advice of healthcare professionals so that you can move your body in a way that feels good and helps you on your pregnancy journey.

Try Freeletics now


[1] Jiang, H., Qian, X., Li, M., Lynn, H., Fan, Y., Jiang, H., He, F., & He, G. (2012). Can physical activity reduce excessive gestational weight gain? Findings from a Chinese urban pregnant women cohort study. The international journal of behavioural nutrition and physical activity, 9, 12.

[2] Reid, E. W., McNeill, J. A., Alderdice, F. A., Tully, M. A., & Holmes, V. A. (2014). Physical activity, sedentary behaviour and fetal macrosomia in uncomplicated pregnancies: a prospective cohort study. Midwifery, 30(12), 1202–1209.

[3] Cooper DB, Yang L. Pregnancy And Exercise. [Updated 2023 Apr 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from:

[4] Kuhrt, K., Harmon, M., Hezelgrave, N. L., Seed, P. T., & Shennan, A. H. (2018). Is recreational running associated with earlier delivery and lower birth weight in women who continue to run during pregnancy? An international retrospective cohort study of running habits of 1293 female runners during pregnancy. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine, 4(1), e000296.

[5] Newton, E. R., & May, L. (2017). Adaptation of Maternal-Fetal Physiology to Exercise in Pregnancy: The Basis of Guidelines for Physical Activity in Pregnancy. Clinical medicine insights. Women's health, 10, 1179562X17693224.