Loading... Please wait...


The best exercise to do in pregnancy

Posted by

So last week my friend Katie from Imperfectly Pure wrote a great blog on nutrition in pregnancy, if you missed it, you can read it here (PART 1 - Nutrition). This week she has done a great piece on exercise - how much, what to do and how to do it. 

Katie is a personal trainer, a wellness coach amongst many other things. Do check out her own site for great tips on eating natural and top exercise tips. So over to Katie...

Part 2 - Exercise

So, you’ve now nailed your Nutrition, WELL DONE! Now let’s talk exercise. There is so much advice out there on what is best, and lots of it is conflicting. Good news for you is that I have done a lot of research, with reputable sources, and the advice that I give, and that I will follow myself is to remain as active as you can. Your pregnancy is not the time to start any wild training routines, or reach for any PB’s – it is a time to nourish your body, mind and spirit. For me that means staying active, and balancing it with a lot of rest. Make it as easy as possible for life to grow inside you by strengthening your body, your mind, and also relaxing!! When the new arrival comes there may not be so much time to put your feet up ;-)

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy describes the aims of exercise in pregnancy as:

“To maintain or moderately improve the level of fitness. After the baby is born the aim is to regain the former level of fitness, or improve on this if previously sedentary/ unfit.”

If you are active – GOOD FOR YOU! I advocate activity, but you will need to learn to listen to your body as well. Studies show that women who continue endurance exercise at or near pre-pregnancy levels gain less weight than those who stop exercising before the 28th week. Babies of exercising mothers are healthier at birth and better manage the stress of delivery. They have a lower heart rate and sleep through the night sooner than babies of more sedentary mums

In support of guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 3 the Royal

College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) suggests that:

  • all women should be encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancy
  • reasonable goals of aerobic conditioning in pregnancy should be to maintain a good fitness level throughout pregnancy without trying to reach peak fitness level or train for athletic competition
  • choose activities that will minimise the risk of loss of balance and foetal trauma
  • women should be advised that adverse pregnancy or neonatal outcomes are not increased for exercising women
  • initiation of pelvic floor exercises in the immediate postpartum period may reduce the risk of future urinary incontinence

Exercising during pregnancy will help you to:

  • Keep your heart, lungs and muscles as healthy as possible
  • Keep your weight within a healthy range
  • Improve your posture, balance and coordination
  • Improve circulation
  • Increase your strength and stamina
  • Feel better in your body AND mind
  • Be prepared for labour and delivery
  • Do your best for your baby as it develops
  • Reduce minor ailments in pregnancy
  • Become fitter to help you recover more quickly after the birth

If you are very inactive now, try incorporating some movement every day. Walking and swimming are both excellent things that are low-impact but benefit the whole body gently.

If you are active now: GOOD NEWS! Many activities are safe to continue with, just be sure to monitor your intensity level. A few guidelines:

  • it is safe to break a sweat when exercising
  • Avoid abdominal crunches
  • Avoid laying on your back past the first trimester
  • Be sure to stay well hydrated when exercising also
  • Try to balance every hour of exercise with an hour of rest
  • Avoid using your heart rate to monitor your exercise program. During pregnancy, your resting heart rate increases and your maximal heat rate decreases so using a target heart rate to guide the intensity of your workout is not recommended. Research shows an easier and safe way to go is to monitor your exertion level using Borg’s Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale (see Table).
  • Throughout pregnancy, exercising at moderate intensity is considered safe. On the Borg RPE Scale, moderate intensity is a rating of 12 to 14 — a level that feels somewhat hard (that is, you can still talk while exercising without feeling exceedingly short of breath).

Borg’s Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale

Source: Borg, 1998

Some of the exercises that are safe to continue with include:

  • 2.YOGA (but not hot in your first trimester)
  • 5.FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH TRAINING (which I will talk a little bit more about now because I believe it is particularly important).

Benefits of Strength Training During Pregnancy

During your pregnancy some of your muscles will naturally weaken:

Hamstring; back of the thigh

Glues: buttocks


Upper back extensors




It is really important to focus on your Spine when strength-training during pregnancy, in particular focusing on exercises that require you to support and stabilise your spine it is neutral position. These types of exercises are also known as Core Conditioning or Functional Exercises and they train the torso and limbs to work together and improve body mechanics, making you fit for real life. Maintaining a Neutral Spine position will support your body a great deal during pregnancy, and beyond, by:

Supporting and protecting the spine

strengthening the deep core muscles

maintain good posture

Prevents/ lessens muscular imbalances

Distributes the load evenly through vertebral discs, helping to avoid back pain

Resistance training exercises that require Neutral Spine stabilisation simultaneously build core control together with strong, powerful limbs. Some exercises that combine resistance training with functional conditioning:

Squats and lunges, using either your body weight or free weights.

Both upper- and lower-body cable-pull exercises performed either standing or seated.

Standing heel rises, employing either your body-weight or free-weights.

Standing or side-lying leg extensions, using your body weight, resistance bands or tubing, ankle weights, a weighted bar, or similar devices.

Front, side, and back flies, performed with free weights, resistance bands or tubing.

Compound rows, done with resistance bands, tubing, or cables.

Most of the seated Pilates reformer exercises.

Plank pose

Focus on Endurance, this means keeping weights low and the number of reps high (10-12 reps,2 – 3 sets). This will also enable you to control your breath more, so aim for deep slow inhalations and exhalations, and slow, controlled repetition.

Try this circuit – it should take you around 45 minutes...

1) Warm Up for 5 minutes either on a cross-trainer, or by performing body weight squats x 30, press ups x 10, continuously for 5 minutes


a.Split leg squats with a barbell on shoulders x 12 each side

b.Press ups x 10

c.Goblet Squat with a weight held at chest x 12

d.Renegade Rows with dumbbells x 12

e.Repeat circuit twice – rest 60 seconds between the circuits and keep a note of your ability to talk


a.Reverse lunge to bicep curl with dumbbells x 12 each side

b.Standing heel raises with dumbbells x 12 each side

c.Renegade Rows with dumbbells x 12

d.Standing Row, Side Raise, Frontal Raise with dumbbells x 12

e.Repeat the circuit twice – rest 60 seconds between the circuits and keep a track on your ability to talk

4) Metabolic conditioning – you need a medicine ball

a.Slam the ball 10 times and then do double legged jumps, front and back,x 10

b.Slam the ball 8 times and then do double legged jumps, front and back, x 8

c.Continue down to 2 slams and jumps

5) Abdominal/Core Strength:

a.Bird Dog Pose (above) x 10 each side

b.Side Plank x 30 seconds x 2

c.Full plank x 30 seconds x 2

Make sure you finish up with a cool down and time to stretch and relax, I often like to end my exercise with some time to close my eyes and be really still, just 2-3 minutes really does the trick!

Overall, when it comes to exercise, listen to your body, monitor your intensity, stay well hydrated and don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right for you. You are the very best judge of what is the very best for you, and your baby.

Something else that I always recommend, even more so for women who are pregnant, is to strengthen the mind through Meditation. I have written two blog posts recently about how to begin mastering the mind or Mindful Walking.

I hope this has been useful for you, if you have any questions I would love to hear from you, with lots of love and a happy, healthy pregnancy. Please email me if you have any questions about nutrition or exercise.




Another great post from Katie, to hear more wellness posts in general Katie's Facebook page for lots of tips and motivation.

View Comments

Nutrition and exercise in pregnancy

This is a very special blog, my friend Katie from Imperfectly Pure, is a Personal Trainer, specialist in Bikram Yoga and is the Queen of all things natural. She has written 2 great blogs for us focusing on nutrition and exercise whilst pregnant. I'm sure you have all been reading articles about what not to [...]

Read More »

We've got our very own Black Maternity Dress

It has been a long time coming but I’m really pleased to say that we now have stock of our very own Blossoming Bump’s Black Maternity Dress. We’ve tried to create something which can be worn on multiple occasions, both casual and for a special occasion. Worn with heels or little sandals it can really work well with any [...]

Read More »

Try on our Maternity Clothes at the Kings Hill Mums Baby Sales

We are really pleased to announce that we will be heading down the road to the Kings Hill Mums Baby Sales on the 23rd May. With lots of nearly new baby items and trade stalls we’re excited to be a part of the event. We will have lots of our maternity clothes and nursing / breastfeeding [...]

Read More »

1st day of spring so let’s get some spring print maternity dresses on

It has been a lovely day down Kent way today, beautiful blue skies, albeit a bit of wind but a lovely break from the rain. With daffodils and blossom on the way it is almost time to ditch the coats, hats and gloves and start to look to that transitional maternity clothes that can get you through the end [...]

Read More »

What size do you wear when you are pregnant?

This is a question that I am always asked, and it is a really tricky one to answer as like most shops, different brands have slight variations in sizes. I know that shopping in Next and H&M for standard sizes can be very different. So what size do you go for when you are buying maternity clothes? Your standard [...]

Read More »

Maternity Lingerie perfect for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day is nearly upon us and this year we are really pleased to have the lovely Lingerie brand Mimi Holliday with their maternity and nursing products on site.Mimi Holliday Maternity bras and lingerie are fun, charming, sexy and sweet with a loveable formula that works.Since Mimi's launch in 2003, the brand has exploded onto the fashion scene, securing [...]

Read More »

Black Friday Maternity and Nursing Wear Deals

Here are some deals for our first Black Friday event - get some bargains on some of our fabulous maternity dresses. 1. Our first Black Friday deal is here - 15% off our maternity tikka coat perfect for during and after pregnancy Enter BLKFRIDAYTIKKA at the checkout. http://www.blossomingbump.com/mamalicious-tikka-spring-jacket/2. Another Black Friday deal for [...]

Read More »

35 weeks pregnant and commuting!

So this week has been an interesting one for me, I’m now heading into the final stages of pregnancy – hurrah – and I had to board a packed train for a commute – no hurrah! With my first pregnancy I was commuting into London on a train and tube for an hour and a half each way [...]

Read More »

Prince George is 1 and we look back at Kate’s Maternity Style

Today Prince George turns 1 – where has the time gone! We all wish him a Happy Birthday and take the time to reminisce over Kate’s Maternity wardrobe.I’ve picked out five of my favourite items she wore throughout pregnancy. She had such a petite bump, being 8 months pregnant myself I’m not sure I could do any of the [...]

Read More »

Recent Updates

Sign up to our newsletter