Exercise During Pregnancy

Congratulations on your pregnancy! If you were running before becoming pregnant and have a healthy low-risk pregnancy, you don’t need to stop. You will find that as you run for two your body naturally slows down, so let your body guide you. If you have never been a runner and would like to do the Women's Mini Marathon, why not walk it? Walking is an excellent way to maintain your fitness while you’re expecting. The aim of exercise during this special time is to maintain fitness without trying to reach peak fitness or train for competition. Before starting a new exercise programme, talk to your doctor or Chartered Physiotherapist in Women’s Health and Continence.  You can do this by contacting the Physiotherapy department in your maternity hospital or alternatively visit www.findaphysio.ie  

The many benefits of exercise during pregnancy

  • Increased energy
  • Healthy weight gain
  • Decreased insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression
  • Reduced risk of developing/helps manage gestational diabetes
  • Increased ability to cope with the physical demands of pregnancy, labour and motherhood
  • Reduced length of labour and reduced delivery complications
  • Faster return to pre-pregnancy fitness and a healthy weight
  • Protective effect on coronary heart disease, osteoporosis and hypertension

Strong pelvic floor muscles 

Because pregnancy weakens your pelvic floor muscles it is important to start pelvic floor muscle training at the beginning of pregnancy and then continue with it. For more information or if you experience problems with bladder/bowel control talk to your Chartered Physiotherapist. 

Recommended exercises 

During a healthy low-risk pregnancy the advice is to exercise at a moderate aerobic intensity (equivalent to a brisk walk) for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week. If you are new to exercise start with no more than 15 minutes continuous exercise and gradually build up to 30 minutes. Exercises that are safe, include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling – outdoors or on a stationary bicycle
  • Exercise in water (aquarobics/aquanatal)
  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Pilates
  • Exercise ball
  • Strength conditioning 
  • Pregnancy exercise classes

Important advice for safe exercise

  • Listen to your body, don’t exercise if you are feeling unwell or are too tired
  • Do the talk test.  You should be able to carry out a conversation while you exercise. If you can’t then you need to reduce the intensity
  • Wear a supportive sports bra 
  • Choose supportive footwear
  • Wear clothing that keeps you cool to avoid overheating 
  • Stay well hydrated, drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise 
  • Always warm up and cool down
  • Avoid contact sports, exercise at altitude, scuba diving and exercises on your back after 16 weeks of pregnancy
  • Be cautious with exercises that have a risk of falling e.g. horse riding, skiing, gymnastics and cycling
  • Stop if you experience any of the following: pain, fatigue, dizziness, contractions, vaginal bleeding, waters breaking, headache, muscle weakness, calf pain or swelling
  • Report any problems to your Doctor, Midwife, or Chartered Physiotherapist 

The ISCP is an official supporter of the Women’s Mini Marathon. To find a chartered physiotherapist near you visit www.findaphysio.ie. For a list of Chartered Physiotherapists who specialise in women’s health and continence contact the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists on 01 402 2148 or email info@iscp.ie.