Common exercises to do and avoid when pregnant

Common exercises to do and avoid when pregnant

There are common exercises to do and avoid when pregnant due to the fact that pregnant women generally experience physical, psychological and physiological changes during pregnancy which often results in decreased physical activity and thereby place them at a risk of several chronic diseases which can lead to mortality.

Exercise and recreation during pregnancy is of great benefit to both the mother and the fetus in order to reduce risks of disorders associated with pregnancy on them

Maintaining a regular exercise and recreation routine throughout your pregnancy can help you stay healthy.

Regular exercise during pregnancy can improve your posture and decrease some common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue. There is evidence that physical activity may prevent gestational diabetes, relieve stress, and build more stamina needed for labor and delivery.

Pregnancy starts when a male’s sperm fertilizes a female’s ovum (egg), and the fertilized ovum implants in the lining of the uterus.

Most pregnancies last for about 280 days (about 40 weeks), but they can also last from 37 to 42 weeks starting from the first day of the last period.

The duration of pregnancy is divided into 3 stages (or trimesters) during which specific changes occur. Each trimester last for about 3 months.



During pregnancy a woman’s body undergoes a variety of changes to prepare for the growth, nourishment, and birth of a child. one of the first signs of pregnancy is a missed menstrual period. Other symptoms include;

  • breast tenderness and swelling
  • fatigue
  • nausea or sensitivity to smells
  • increased frequency of urination
  • mood swings
  • weight gain.



  • Exercise refers to structured form of physical activity usually for reasons of gaining or maintaining fitness.
  • Recreation refers to an activity that a person takes part in for pleasure or relaxation rather than as work.
  • Perception can be defined as an idea, or an image one has as a result of how one sees or understands a thing or situation.

Common exercises to do and avoid when pregnant due to the fact that pregnant women generally experience physical, psychological and physiological changes during pregnancy which often results in decreased physical activity and thereby place them at a risk of several chronic diseases which can lead to mortality.


  • We recommend that pregnant women engage in moderate physical exercise for 30 minutes in most or preferably all days of the week.
  • Women who are active before pregnancy can usually continue their exercise routine although with modification in the intensity and frequency of exercise during the period of pregnancy.
  • Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes as well as a good support bra.
  • Choose shoes that are designed for the type of exercise you do. Proper shoes are your best protection against injury.
  • Never exercise to the point of exhaustion. If you cannot talk normally while exercising, you are probably over-exerting yourself and should slow down your activity.
  • Exercise on a flat, level surface to prevent injury.
  • Finish eating at least 1 hour before exercising.
  • Drink water before, during, and after your workout.
  • After doing floor exercises, get up slowly and gradually to prevent dizziness.

Exercises and recreation safe during pregnancy include;

  • Swimming
  • Brisk walking
  • Indoor stationary cycling
  • Low-impact aerobics (taught by certified aerobics instructor)
  • Jogging (done in moderation)
  • Tennis
  • Stretching
  • Strength training/weight lifting

Exercises and recreation to avoid during pregnancy include;

  • Holding your breath
  • Horseback riding
  • Contact sports
  • Extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing, or running
  • Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises, and straight-leg toe touches.
  • Waist-twisting movements while standing
  • Exercising in hot, humid weather.
  • Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity.
  • Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma such as activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in direction.

Exercise and recreation during pregnancy is not advisable in these cases

Medical problems

Pregnancy –related conditions

  • Bleeding or spotting
  • Low placenta
  • Threatened or recurrent miscarriage
  • Previous premature births or history of early labour
  • Weak cervix

Exercising and changes associated with pregnancy

Your body will undergo many changes during pregnancy. Some will affect your ability to exercise, or require you to modify your exercise routine, including:

  • Hormones such as relaxin loosen ligaments, which could increase your risk of joint injuries (such as sprains).
  • As pregnancy progresses, your weight will increase and you will experience changes in weight distribution and body shape. This results in the body’s center of gravity moving forward, which can alter your balance and coordination.
  • Pregnancy increases your resting heart rate, so don’t use your target heart rate to work out the intensity of your exercise. In healthy pregnant women, exercise intensity can be monitored using a method known as Borg’s Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. This measures how hard you feel (perceive) your body is working.
  • Your blood pressure drops in the second trimester, so it is important to avoid rapid changes of position – from lying to standing and vice versa – so as not to experience dizzy spells.

Warning sings when exercising during pregnancy

If you experience any of the following during or after physical activity, stop exercising immediately and see your doctor:

  • headache
  • dizziness or feeling faint
  • heart palpitations
  • chest pain
  • swelling of the face, hands or feet
  • calf pain or swelling
  • vaginal bleeding
  • contractions
  • deep back, pubic or pelvic pain
  • cramping in the lower abdomen
  • walking difficulties
  • an unusual change in your baby’s movements
  • amniotic fluid leakage
  • unusual shortness of breath
  • excessive fatigue
  • muscle weakness.


Promoting the circulation of blood to both the pregnant women and the vital organs of the fetus

  • Improves muscle tone, thus enhancing safe and normal delivery.
  • Reduced duration of labor
  • Decreased rate of Cesarean section
  • Decreased length of hospital stay
  • Easier labor in addition to recovering quickly postpartum

Factors that may affect pregnant women perception towards exercise and recreation

  • Age
  • Level of education


  • Health care providers should be well knowledgeable with the latest recommendations on exercise as only then can they give appropriate exercise prescription.
  • Pregnant Women should be educated on exercising at low moderate intensity as this will help avoid tiredness during exercise and recreation.
  • Women are advised to engage in exercises and recreation as they are more likely to continue even during pregnancy.
  • Obstetric care providers should always discuss exercise with their patients and encourage them to engage in it.

Pregnancy is an immunosuppressive state, therefor we recommend cleanliness. we also recommend PrEP in pregnancy because it is safe for mother and child.

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