Staying active during pregnancy doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym every day or start training for a marathon. Simply moving your body and increasing your heart rate can be enough to see benefits.
Unless told otherwise by her doctor, all pregnant women are encouraged to engage in physical activity, whether it’s at home or planned and programmed.
In this post, we’re listing 11 ways to exercise that will make moving your body feel like a breeze.
Benefits of Pregnancy Exercise
Women are encouraged to exercise during pregnancy because of the variety of well-researched benefits, including:
- Improved posture (helps with pregnancy-related backaches and fatigue)
- Decreased stress
- Improved mood
- Improved sleep (but don’t exercise too close to bedtime)
- Improved digestion
- Improved stamina (which may make labor and delivery quicker and easier)
- May help prevent gestational diabetes
Read more about the benefits of exercising during pregnancy.
How much exercise is enough? 30 minutes or more each day is recommended by The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
With that being said, there are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Ask your doctor before starting a new exercise routine
- Know that certain conditions and pregnancy complications make exercise unsafe
- Always begin with warm up and stretching
- Keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute
- Frequently take sips of water to avoid dehydration
- Avoid working out in hot environments (jogging on a scorching day, hot yoga, etc.)
- Workout at an intensity that’s comfortable for you and slowly work your way up (do not over exert yourself)
- Not every exercise is safe during pregnancy. See which activities to avoid here
- If you feel too out of breath, faint, drained or experience a headache, chest pain or vaginal bleeding, stop immediately
11 Easy Ways to Exercise During Pregnancy
If you’re someone who doesn’t traditionally enjoy working out, this list is for you. Remember: The best exercise is the one you’ll actually do.
#1 Take a Light Jog and Listen to an Audiobook
If you don’t usually jog, it may seem a little boring and you may feel awkward thinking people are watching you. To help motivate and distract you, consider downloading an interesting audiobook that you only allow yourself to listen to while jogging. To keep the habit, choose a time every morning or evening to jog. You can start with a quick 5 minutes and build your way up if you decide. Another option is to jog during intervals. For example, set a timer that allows you to jog for 30 seconds and rest by walking for 90 seconds. Then, repeat.
#2 Walk Your Dog
If you have a dog, take her for a trip outside of the backyard. If you’re comfortable, you can build your pace and intensity as time progresses. You may choose to speed walk and take breaks whenever your dog finds a good sniffing spot. If you don’t have a pet, most friends or neighbors wouldn’t mind if their dog got some extra exercise.
#3 Make Some Extra Cash as a Dog Walker
Kill two birds with one stone by signing up to become a dog walker. This way, you can get your exercise while making a few extra dollars to spend on baby items. You can use websites such as Wag! to find canine clients. The best part is that you can set your own schedule, so if you’re not feeling up to it during later months, there’s no commitment.
#4 Discover (or Rediscover) Music While Speed Walking
If jogging feels too intense and walking doesn’t feel like enough exercise, try a speed walk. To make it more interesting, make a Spotify playlist of new songs you want to listen to. Or, rediscover the music you fell in love with as a teenager. Notice the songs that really get you moving and create a new speed walking playlist for next time.
#5 Watch TV While Doing Easy Moves
If you really don’t want to sacrifice your TV watching time, you don’t need to. In fact, it can help distract you so that you enjoy exercise. Simply choose a few moves that are easy to do and that will allow you to hear or see the TV at the same time. Write these moves down in the order you want to do them. Then, download an interval timer. Decide how long to do each exercise for and how long of a break you would like in between. For example, maybe you want to do each exercise for 45 seconds with a 15 break in between. Simply hit play on your TV and start on your timer. When you’re finished, you can choose to repeat the set.
Here are some TV-friendly exercise suggestions:
- Lightly jogging in one place
- Standing leg swing
- Side push ups
- Lunges (forward, back or side)
- Hip bridges
#6 Quick Cleaning
Instead of looking at cleaning as a chore, look at it as an opportunity to exercise. Since you need to do it anyway, you’re also multitasking! Rather than taking your sweet time, set a timer for 20 minutes and aim to move as quickly and get as much done as you can. For example, 20 minutes of straight vacuuming and running around reorganizing can work up a sweat—that counts as cardio! Read more about cardio and household chores here.
#7 Just Dance
If you used to love going out to drink and dance, pregnancy doesn’t mean you need to stop grooving. You don’t need a club or bar to get into the mood. Turn on your favorite music and dance around the house like no one’s watching. If you want some company, invite your friends over for a fun night.
Another idea is to follow a dance tutorial on YouTube. Here’s some suggestions:
- Prenatal Cardio Dance Workout for a Fit Pregnancy
- Pregnancy Cardio Dance | Third Trimester Exercise
- Bollywood Bellies Prenatal Cardio Fitness Workout with Rhythmaya
#8 Follow a Pregnancy Workout on YouTube
If you’re not interested in going to a group class, yet still want to be instructed, turn to YouTube. There’s a variety of workouts tailored to different fitness levels and every trimester.
Here are a few options to get you started:
- 25 Minute Prenatal Bodyweight Workout (No equipment)
- Bump’n Body Prenatal Workout with Trainer Kristina
- 20 Minute Cardio Workout for Any Trimester
- 20 Minute Full Body Pregnancy Workout by Popsugar
#9 Yoga Workout
If you’re experiencing some pregnancy stress or anxiety, exercise in general can help. However, since yoga is about the mind-body connection, it may be your new go-to relaxation technique. Yoga encourages you to pay attention to your breathing and to synchronize your breath with each pose. Example moves include downward dog, child’s pose, warrior, cobra and savasana (which is just lying on your back, could it get any easier!?).
Attending a prenatal yoga class can give you an opportunity to meet other moms-to-be who are also looking to relax. If that’s not your style, you can follow these videos:
- 10 Minute Pregnancy Yoga
- Pregnancy Yoga for Strength and Stability
- Prenatal Yoga for Beginners
- 5 Yoga Poses for All Trimesters
Also read Prenatal Yoga: Your Ultimate Guide.
#10 Pilates Workout
If you’re into yoga but want something a little more up-tempo, try Pilates. Pilates can help you with posture, flexibility and muscle toning. Most beginner exercises just require you and a mat. Example moves include plank, roll-up sit-ups, bridges and leg swings.
If you’re not sure where to start, find a class near you or check out these YouTube videos:
- 20 Minute Prenatal Pilates Workout
- Preparing for Childbirth: Exercises for Circulation, Pain Relief and Strength
- 20 Minute Full Body Pregnancy Pilates Workout
- 10-Minute Prenatal Pilates Workout
Head to your local pool, lake or ocean to burn some energy without feeling overly hot. Swimming allows you to cool off and workout without putting pressure on swollen ankles. While diving and jumping may be uncomfortable on your belly, there’s plenty of other moves you can do. Besides a breaststroke, you can simply walk in the water or partake in water aerobics (here’s an example water workout).
Note: While pools are great, many experts urge pregnant women to stay away from the heat in hot tubs and saunas.
Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program, especially during pregnancy. For most expecting women, exercise is safe and highly beneficial. Even if you don’t consider yourself an active person, there are plenty of ways to make physical activity fun. Make sure to work at a comfortable intensity, keep hydrated and avoid overexerting yourself.
What type of exercise do you partake in during pregnancy? Share your routine below! If you have any pregnant friends, share this article to help them stay healthy, too!
P.S. You already have a fetal doppler, right? If not, you’ll want to check them out now. These amazing devices allow you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat through earphones. You can get one today for as low as $19.95, but the reassurance and bonding they can provide is priceless.