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Tips for exercising while pregnant

A pregnant mother is doing yoga at home with her toddler daughter and smiling

Safe and simple exercises you can do throughout your pregnancy.

Being pregnant can be difficult. You may feel more tired than usual or like you’re carrying around extra weight. These feelings can make exercising hard. But exercising while pregnant is a good way to keep you and your baby healthy. It can help improve your mood, posture, and relieve back pain and other discomfort related to pregnancy or delivery [1]. Exercise will also help you avoid gaining excess weight during your pregnancy.

Even if you were very active before becoming pregnant, you might need to adjust your routine. As long as the risk is low and your doctor agrees, you can exercise for 30 minutes five or more days a week while pregnant. Just make sure to drink plenty of water!

Exercising while pregnant tips

There are some things pregnant people should keep in mind when exercising. It’s best to check with your doctor to see if your plans put your health at risk. If you have any of the following, speak with your doctor before starting any exercise routine:

  • Increased risk for preterm labor
  • Increased risk for premature membrane rupture
  • Severe asthma
  • A multiple pregnancy

Stay hydrated and listen to your body!

Before diving into any workout, it critical to avoid dehydration by drinking water before, during, and after a workout. Also, don’t push an exercise or routine if you are feeling fatigued or sore. This could cause injury or complications [1].

Here are some ideas and insights to keep in mind when exercising while pregnant (broken down by trimester):

Exercising during the first trimester

Many pregnant people feel exhausted or sick in their first trimester. As long as you feel up to it and your doctor says it’s OK, you can continue any routine you were doing before your pregnancy. Avoid beginning an intense exercise routine during pregnancy if you did not have one before. If you are just starting to exercise, try moderate-intensity activities (like walking) for 10 minutes. You can build up to the recommended 30 minutes per day.

Exercising during the second trimester

Many people feel better during their second trimester than they did during their first. During this time, avoid any exercise that asks you to lay on your front. You should also avoid activities that involve bouncing or jumping. As always, listen to your body when it asks you to slow down.

Exercising during the third trimester

By this point, your belly will be in full bloom, and relaxin—a hormone in your body—will be flowing [2]. Watch out for low back pain. Take a break if you feel achy. It may be a sign you are doing too much for your body. Seek out physical therapy if the pain continues.

If you feel strong, energized, and pain-free, keep moving! Exercising now can help prevent swelling and edema. In addition, pregnancy-safe core work can help keep your muscles aligned. Exercise during this time can also help keep your pelvic floor strong. This reduces the risk of tearing during birth.

Exercises for pregnant people

Prenatal yoga: Prenatal yoga is a fantastic exercise for pregnant people. It helps you stay flexible and mindful. It also encourages focused breathing. Go to a local class or do a prenatal yoga series on YouTube (such as this one or this one).

Pelvic floor exercises (kegels): The pelvic floor is important to the birthing process. Strengthening these muscles can help labor go more smoothly. Find a pregnancy exercise app for routines to help you work with these muscles [2].

Moderate-intensity, low-impact exercise: Walking is a great moderate-intensity exercise, but it isn’t the only option. Try doing low-impact aerobics, cycling, or using an elliptical [3].

Exercises to avoid while pregnant

There are tons of exercises you can do while pregnant. However, there are some activities you should avoid [3]:

  • Ab workouts
  • Activities that include a risk of falling
  • Balance activities
  • Contact sports
  • Hot yoga
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Scuba diving
  • Skydiving

UPMC Health Plan can help you stay healthy during your pregnancy

Maternity care managers can help UPMC Health Plan members stay healthy before, during, and after pregnancy. Interested in extra support? Connect with one of our coaches.


[1] Exercise During Pregnancy. UPMC. Updated Oct. 8, 2020. Accessed June 14, 2021.

[2] Training the Prenatal Client: Specific Considerations and Exercises for Late-term Pregnancy. American Council on Exercise. No date. Accessed June 14, 2021.

[3] Considerations for Training the Pre- and Post-Natal Client. American Council on Exercise. Sept. 28, 2018. Accessed June 14, 2021.