Exercising while pregnant: The top tips you should know

Nora Hameidani, the founder of Barre Effect studio, shares her top tips when exercising for a healthier and more comfortable pregnancy experience.

Exercise as a daily routine can help to diminish stress, improve mood, keep your body strong, prevent injury or illness, maintain a healthy weight, assist in adequate sleep – the list goes on. All of these become even more important when you’re expecting. Studies have shown that exercising during pregnancy is enormously beneficial to the mother’s physical abilities, comfort and energy.

What exercise is best?

Barre is a low impact strength training class that can easily be modified during all stages of pregnancy – whether pre-pregnancy, during, or postpartum. So, it is no surprise that many women are advised by their doctor to choose this type of movement during pregnancy. Other common options include walking, swimming and stationary cycling. Prenatal yoga and Pilates, or even aqua aerobics, can also be great forms of exercise for your changing body.

Comparison is the thief of joy

It is important to always consult with your doctor regarding your exercise routine while pregnant and make sure it’s the smart choice for your body and your capacity. Try not to compare yourself to anyone else because every woman has their own journey.  What might be appropriate for a friend may not work well for you. After all, we all have different pregnancies and deliveries, so it’s best to simply focus on figuring out what feels right for you without comparing your progress to anyone else’s but your own.

Familiarity is key

It is usually advised to practise a technique or class that you are familiar with, so you know what to expect, how to pace yourself and how to modify the movements if you need to. Unless it is specified as “prenatal” or for pregnant women, I do not suggest trying something brand new. However, if you have never exercised before and have clearance to start while pregnant, a specified prenatal class or walking would be your best option.

Listen to your body

This is simple but powerful advice. Listen to your body! If a movement doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. Allow yourself to take breaks when you need to and know that movement will take time – it’s always better to start slowly and gently.

Be patient

Be patient with yourself. You and your body are changing each day. Things might feel different than they used to and you might not enjoy the same exercise. On the other hand, you may also find some things that surprise you, such as a newfound love for a particular kind of movement. Take it day by day and appreciate what your body is going through.

Hydration and Nutrition

Hydration and nourishment are more essential than ever when you’re pregnant. It’s important to stay hydrated before your workout, during your exercise, as well as afterwards as your body cools down. Eating healthily will also help you to feel strong and comfortable while working out and ensure you have the proper fuel to exercise properly and effectively. It is advised to not skip meals, so even consuming something small and light before working out is better than not eating.

Mindful Movement

Start with a slower tempo than gradually build up the speed if necessary to make sure you maintain proper technique as you exercise. There is a higher chance of becoming dizzy when you are pregnant, so take care especially when moving upwards from or down towards the ground. Your balance and stability can be off while pregnant so keep it in mind to move with as much control as you can to prevent falling or tripping. There are so many hormone changes that take place during this special time. Some of these can make it more likely for your blood pressure to drop, which can cause you to become dizzy, so remember to check-in with your body and monitor how you feel as you exercise.

Keep your cool

You are more likely to overheat while pregnant, so again, listening to yourself, taking breaks, and having adequate hydration are key in making sure you stay at a comfortable temperature that doesn’t put extra strain on your body.

Warm up and recovery

Take the time for a proper warmup and a short recovery routine post workout. This will lessen the possibility of injury by making sure your muscles are well prepared for work and are properly cooled down and relaxed after exercise.


Relaxin is a hormone that loosens and relaxes your muscles, joints and ligaments during pregnancy, to help your body stretch. Relaxin also helps your body prepare for delivery by loosening the muscles and ligaments in your pelvis. It is important to be mindful of this while stretching, as you may feel a little more open or flexible, but this can cause you to stretch too far or too deeply, increasing the chance of injury. As always, be cautious and ask for medical advice if you feel uncertain.

Prenatal Specialists

Participating in a session with an instructor that has experience with pregnant women is important. Take the time to speak with your instructor or trainer ahead of the session so that they can advise you on how best to properly modify movements, especially where you’re not participating in a prenatal specified class. Many modifications are available for pregnancy, paving the way for you to be more comfortable and get more out of your session. Abdominal work in particular will be heavily adjusted, allowing your abdominal muscles to shift but still stay strong during pregnancy.


Moving with your breath is key while exercising and becomes even more important when carrying a baby. While pregnant, your body requires more oxygen than usual to function at its best. Having conscious, slow, controlled breathing allows you to properly expand and strengthen your abdominals during pregnancy, which will be beneficial for recovery after delivery. This breathwork also promotes relaxation, while reducing your stress and anxiety throughout your pregnancy.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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