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The Absolute Best Exercises For Pregnant Women

4 min read

By Emily Lockhart

Exercise is wonderful for pregnant women. It reduces inflammation (I’m talking about those swollen ankles), improves sleep and digestion, reduces constipation and back pain, boosts energy and mood, helps relieve muscle pain, helps keep weight healthy, and gets the muscles limber for the stress of childbirth.

That’s why as little as 30-minutes a day of gentle exercise can be very beneficial for pregnant women and for baby too. The following types of exercise are perfectly safe and encouraged for pregnant women…

10. Swimming

Swimming is one of the most therapeutic and safe types of exercise for expectant moms. Why? Due to the reduced gravity affect of water, pregnant women can take advantage of buoyancy for cardiovascular exercise. So try some laps in the pool at your own pace, and enjoy the feeling of lightness in the water that will help you shed any extra pregnancy pounds.

9. Yoga

Yoga is another great form of exercise to help align the body and mind. It not only trains the body through gentle stretching, which improves muscle tone, flexibility, and just makes movement a lot more effortless (particularly when you’re carrying another person around). A weekly Hath yoga regimen will also prepare the mind for the stress of childbirth.

8. Walking

A prime cardiovascular physical activity, walking encourages blood circulation, which reduces inflammation on weight bearing joints (like those swollen knees and ankles). Plus, you don’t need a gym membership or any exercise gear for walking—just comfortable clothing and a supportive pair of sneakers. Walking is a great way to banish gas, constipation, and indigestion following a meal and it will help you’re your weight healthy throughout your pregnancy.

7. Weight Lifting

Weight training for pregnant women is perfectly safe it was part of your exercise routine pre-pregnancy. Of course, certain restrictions should be put in place as you near your delivery date, and the amount of weight you’re lifting can be reduced; while the repetitions can be increased to strengthen muscles and promote cardiovascular training as well.

6. Zumba

Nothing quite gets your heart pumping like dancing, and just because you’re pregnant, you don’t need to forgo the dance foor altogether. So pump up the Latin tunes and try a mood-boosting Sumba class or exercise DVD at home.  You will just want to go at your own pace as you progress through your pregnancy and take it easy on the jumping moves asking for alternatives that go easy on your weight bearing joints.

5. Mommy-to-Be Aerobics

Low-impact aerobic classes are ideal for expectant moms, which is why you’ll find a slew of custom aerobic classes for moms-to-be. Not only will the low impact cardio help strengthen your heart and your muscles; taking a class with other pregnant women will provide a safe and supportive community to share experiences, questions, and fears.

4. Nia

Nia is an exploratory dance-focused exercise program that concentrates on mind-body connection and meaningful movement.  With little use for routines, Nia encourages participants to listen to their bodies and respond, the idea being that if you really listen, you will move the way your body needs to physically, working out aches, pains, and stiffness. As expectant moms adapt to the physical changes of pregnancy, an exercise like Nia teaches body consciously move and adaption to meet the needs of both mom and baby.

3. Water Aerobics

Doing gentle aerobic exercise in a pool is extremely advantageous for pregnant bodies as you have the benefit of buoyancy (a weightlessness that takes pressure off the joints). Many water fitness classes avoid bouncing and instead focus on a combination of cardiovascular exercise for endurance, weight bearing exercises for developing strength, and stretching moves to build flexibility.

2. Pilates

Pilates is a particularly beneficial exercise for expectant moms because it focuses on the muscles of the abdomen, pelvic floor, and back though gentle, controlled moves that support posture, improve balance, and promote strength for a stable core. Due to the excess stress placed on back, stomach, and pelvic floor muscles as your baby grows, Pilates can take the strain off and even help prepare your body for a smoother birth.

1. Stretching

This might not seem like a workout, but proper stretching is very important to pregnant women. It helps prevent muscle strain and can build core muscles and help keep you strong for the delivery!


Emily Lockhart


Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.



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