Gentle exercise in pregnancy

Congratulations on your pregnancy!

Mums-to-be, we know you want to:

  • Have a happy, healthy, active pregnancy
  • Prepare for birth and have a good recovery afterwards
  • Look after your pregnant body and growing baby

If you want to get fit and stay active throughout your pregnancy you’ll need to understand the risks and choose the right exercise, to benefit you and your growing baby. The best exercises for pregnancy will improve your posture, mobility and core strength. Here’s what we recommend:

1. First, attend to your posture in pregnancy

No one wants to walk like a duck! Watch how Lucy’s posture changes with a few simple adjustments to help reduce back pain.

Pregnancy Posture Check: Imagine I’m there pulling your shoulder blades back and down, chest up and chin in. Check your pelvis is neutral, your lower back is not compressed. Slightly engage your tummy muscles. Breathe and stand tall.


One of the most common problems with posture in pregnancy is called lordosis, and can be corrected by practising a pelvic tilt every day.

Pelvic Tilt: Imagine your pelvis is a bucket of water, try tipping the water out the front and then the back, noticing the range of movement relative to your normal position. End in a neutral positionIf you spend a lot of time sitting during your pregnancy, remember to pause and mobilise your neck and shoulders every hour.


Neck Release: Release tension and mobilise the neck by moving your head right and left, side to side, down and up.


Shoulder Roll: Roll the shoulders back, open your chest and breathe deeply.


2. Get moving and connect with your body

Whether you’re making the most of a 10 minute break, or you’re warming up for a full workout, these are a few safe mobilisation exercises in pregnancy. Aim to get your circulation moving, and enjoy being active, by doing each of these exercises three times a week.

Reach up and breathe in: close your eyes and open your arms reaching up and out with your finger tips as you breathe out.


Ski Sits: Start standing feet shoulder width apart, sit back as if sitting on a chair.


Reach Over: Reach up and over your head with each arm alternately.


Step Back: Start standing and step back, keeping feet pointing forward and allowing the front foot to lift and stretch the back of the front leg dynamically.


Upper Back and Chest Mobilisation: Bring the back of your hands together in front of you and curl the spine as if you are hugging a big beech ball. Open the chest and lift while you take a big breath in. Repeat smoothly.


Pilates Roll-down: Start standing feet shoulder width apart, roll down gently to a forward bend with your bump between your knees. Hang there, relax and roll up again.

3. Get in the habit of a regular quick and easy legs workout

To build strength in your legs and maintain good balance, try these exercises at any stage in your pregnancy – just ease off if you feel any joint pain or dizziness. Pay close attention to your posture and avoid over-exertion.

Pilates Roll-down: Start standing feet shoulder width apart, roll down gently to a forward bend with your bump between your knees. Hang there, relax and roll up again.


Balance with a Bump: Lift you knee to the front with arms out to side, wobbling is good it will help your build stabilising muscle strength. Move the knee to the side, being careful of any pelvic pain and only moving within your limits of comfort, then move the leg to the back. Repeat on the other leg.


Static Lunges: Point both feet forward, one about a metre in front of the other. Lunge downwards with a straight back and strong upper body posture, so the back knee almost reaches the floor. Come back up and repeat, keeping your feet still and a smooth rhythmic movement up and down.


Squats: Start with feet shoulder width apart and squat as if sitting in a chair. Keep knees aligned with toes pointing forward and your back perfectly straight. Only go as deep in your squat as can comfortably without joint pain and maintaining good posture.

4. What else?

Our experts recommend modified yoga, Pilates and targeted strengthening workouts for pregnancy. On the Proper Exercise in Pregnancy DVD you can follow three separate workouts – perfect for pregnancy – each with options for you to choose how hard you work depending on your stage of pregnancy and fitness levels. It also includes expert guidance on your prenatal body from a women’s health physiotherapist and advice on choosing how hard to exercise.

Swimming and walking are excellent choices for exercise in pregnancy as well, if you have no complications, right up to birth.

Pregnant mums can also safely continue with any physical activity you were used to doing before, with the exception of contact, impact or dangerous sports. You just need to reduce the level of intensity as your bump grows.

Of course, some pregnancy related health problems will further limit what is safe and you should ask your doctor what is right for you.

We hope you enjoy the rest of your active, healthy, pregnancy. And remember, you can get physically active immediately after your baby arrives, even though you won’t start on proper postnatal exercise for a few weeks. Until your GP gives you clearance to exercise you can follow our programme of physical activity for brand new mums.

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