Top 7 Simple Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise You Can Do During Pregnancy is safe and healthy. You can do most types of exercise in pregnancy, Exercise During Pregnancy including running, Pilates, weights, yoga, and swimming.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, expectant women should exercise for 30 minutes every day. Exercise during pregnancy not only keeps you fit but also improves energy levels, mood, and muscle strength.

It also reduces fatigue, constipation, enhances recovery after delivery, and chances of developing gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes increases a woman’s risk of developing diabetes Type 2 later in life. What’s more, it increases the baby’s risk of becoming overweight. Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise During Pregnancy

 A study conducted in 2017 showed that obese women who exercise for 30-50 minutes a day, three times a week, reduced the risk of delivering babies prematurely. Having a well-planned exercise regimen is critical to obtain these health benefits. Exercise During Pregnancy

But note, it would be helpful if you discussed changes in your exercise habits with your physician beforehand to ensure you are doing the right exercises. Your doctor may caution you against exercise if you have any of these complications:

  • Are expecting twins or more babies
  • Are hypertensive
  • Have a pre-existing lung disease
  • Have a high risk of developing preterm labor
  • Are anemic
  • Are at high risk of developing placenta previa

However, if your pregnancy is healthy, you can perform low impact aerobic exercises. Here are seven simple ones: Exercise During Pregnancy

Side Leg Raise

Exercise You Can Do During Pregnancy

The side leg raise exercise strengthens the hip and thigh muscles helping your body to support the weight of the growing fetus. The exercise also gives the body more leverage during delivery.

How to Do It
  • Stand straight behind a chair or table
  • Keep your feet slightly apart and hold on to the chair to keep your body balanced
  • Lift your leg 6-12 inches to the side and keep your back and leg straight
  • Keep your toes facing forward and hold the position for one second
  • Lower your leg to the original position and repeat the process with your left leg
  • Repeat the exercise 8-15 times on each leg

Hip Flexing

Exercise During Pregnancy Hip flexors are located on top of the thighs, and they are the muscles responsible for lifting the knees and bending of the waist. Thus, hip flexing exercise primarily prepares the body for labor by strengthening the hip and thigh muscles. There are two ways of performing the exercise:

Method 1

  • Stand behind or to the side of a table or chair
  • Hold it using one hand for balance
  • Bend the right knee and raise it toward your chest
  • Avoid bending your hips or waist and maintain an upright posture
  • Hold the position for a second and take three seconds to lower the left leg all the way down
  • Repeat the process with your left leg and alternate them until you have done 8-15 reps on each side

Exercise During Pregnancy (You may use ankle weights when performing the exercise, but it is essential to check with the doctor first).

Method 2

  • Kneel on your left knee and put your right foot in front, so your leg forms a right angle
  • Put your right hand off the right thigh to maintain balance and the left hand on your left hip
  • Maintain an upright posture, lean forward and shift the weight of the body to the forward leg
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds, switch the legs and repeat

3. Lateral Leg Raise

The exercise strengthens your upper back muscles and encourages you to maintain proper posture. Lateral leg raise also keeps your legs well-toned. It is suitable for women in their second and third trimesters.

How to Do It

  • Lie on the right side and support your head using your forearm
  • Bend the right leg at a 45-degree angle leaving the left leg straight
  • Then, lift the left leg (at hip height) and lower it
  • Perform as many reps while switching the sides to work on the other leg
  • You can place a pillow under the hip for additional support

4. Walking

Walking is a great low-impact exercise. It keeps the heart healthy without exerting too much pressure on the knees and ankles. The walks don’t have to be intense; a stroll around the park for 30 minutes four or more times a week should suffice.

Exercise You Can Do During Pregnancy Women with a higher fitness level can walk longer distances as long as they have appropriate footwear. You also want to keep off wearing your beautiful maternity dresses and look for comfortable workout gear. These tips should come in handy depending on your fitness level:

First Trimester

  • Begin with a 15-20 minute walk on alternative days
  • Increase the exercise to four days a week adding five minutes to the walk
  • Towards the end of the first trimester walk 10-20 minutes every day

Second Trimester

  • Begin with a ten-minute walk 4-5 days a week
  • Increase the length gradually depending on your fitness level
  • Towards the end of the trimester, you should walk 25-40 minutes every day for 5-6 days

Third Trimester

  • Walk for 5-6 days a week
  • If you are not as active begin with a ten-minute walk every day
  • Add a few minutes gradually to 25-50 minutes every day for 5-6 days
  • You can break the walking sessions if your energy level is low

5. Swimming

Exercise You Can Do During Pregnancy

The exercise provides the body with a better range of motion without exerting too much pressure on the joints. It is suitable for expectant women as the body feels lighter in water and reduces the chances of falling or harming the baby.

This is because the water buoyancy makes it easy to hold poses you may not be able to keep when on land. If performing specific exercises when swimming, it is vital to find a stroke that feels comfortable and does not strain your shoulder, back, or neck muscles. Exercise You Can Do During Pregnancy

The breaststroke, for example, is suitable as you don’t need to rotate your torso, and you still get to work out while moving your legs and arms. Additional exercises you can perform while swimming includes:

  • Cross-country Ski: It strengthens the upper and lower legs, arms, butt, hips and the core
  • Upper-body sweep: The activity strengthens the core muscles along with the front of the torso
  • Floating abs: The exercise strengthens your deep abdominals and enables you to stretch the calves and the hamstrings
  • Floating frog: You will need a floating noodle to perform this exercise which strengthens the lower back and the inner thighs
  • Pendulum cross: The exercise strengthens the inner and outer thighs as well as your deep abdominals

6. Squats

The American Pregnancy Association recommends specific exercises for pregnant women. Squats is one such exercise that prepares the body for labor and delivery. The activity opens up the pelvis helping the baby’s descent. Here are five types of expectant women will find useful:

  • Bodyweight Squats: The exercise relies on the weight of the body to provide adequate resistance for you to work out
  • Sumo squats: This type works on the inner muscles of your glutes and thighs. It also opens up the hips. Your joints are incredibly flexible during pregnancy, so you want to avoid overstretching
  • Squatting against the wall using an exercise ball: This premise of this exercise is to create some instability in a bid to engage the core muscles. If the activity strains your knees, go as low as your body feels comfortable
  • Deep squat hold: The exercise works on your pelvic floor, which weakens as the pregnancy progresses. Strong pelvic floor muscles prevent the development of postpartum problems
  • Chair squats: The activity is suitable for women who have lost a sense of balance and coordination during pregnancy

7.   Prenatal Yoga

Exercise You Can Do During Pregnancy

Yoga classes keep the body flexible, strengthen the muscles, enhance relaxation, and stimulate blood circulation. Research shows yoga is a multi-faceted approach that encourages mental centering, stretching, and focused breathing.

As the pregnancy progresses, you need to avoid postures that compromise balance. For example, poses that involve lying on the back if in the second semester. Note, lying on your back causes the uterus weight and that of the fetus to exert extra pressure on your veins and arteries.  Meaning, such concern reduces the blood flow to your heart. A typical prenatal yoga class involves:

  • Gentle stretching: The instructor encourages participants to move different areas of the body (neck and arms) using a full range of motion
  • Breathing: Participants need to focus on breathing in and out slowly to manage shortness of breath during pregnancy
  • Postures: The instructor requires you to move the body into different positions while sitting, standing, or lying on the ground. The idea is to develop strength, balance, and flexibility
  • Relaxation: At the end of the class, you need to relax muscles and restore the breathing rhythm and heart rate. The instructor also encourages you to listen to your breathing, pay attention to sensations, or repeat a word to restore a state of self-awareness


Expectant women should be physically active throughout the pregnancy period. The different exercises explained should help you identify one that suits your body and fitness level. The idea is to use low-impact exercises to keep the body active without causing injury or exerting excessive pressure on your joints. Be sure to schedule specific days and time for working out to complete the exercises successfully.

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