Exercise in pregnancy – a trimester-by-trimester guide

How you exercise in pregnancy will change through each trimester.

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Exercise in your first trimester

If you’re used to exercising then you can probably carry on in much the same way you did before you became pregnant, if you feel up to it.

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Most exercise can be undertaken safely in your first trimester, including running and aerobics. However, sports with a high risk of contact or falling should be avoided.

Be aware of what your limits are and to keep within them – don’t push yourself. This isn’t a time to be breaking records. Listen to your body and lower the intensity when it tells you to. Generally, you’ll want to keep your heart rate under 140 BPM, which you can track easily with a heart rate monitor.

During the first trimester you may feel tired, emotional and sick and generally off-peak. If this is the case, overdoing the exercise will only make you feel worse. A moderate amount of exercise that you’re comfortable with will probably give you more energy and make you feel better.

Exercise in your second trimester

As your pregnancy develops and you begin to put on weight, you’ll want to lessen the intensity of your exercise.

You might find that sports such as cycling and running are already becoming uncomfortable in the second trimester. It partly depends on when you put on weight, and how much.

Exercise in your third trimester

By your third trimester, exercises such as running, cycling and aerobics will most likely be out of the question.

Any activity involving a lot of bouncing around will probably be uncomfortable. As your centre of balance changes, your risk of falling also increases.

As your pregnancy progresses cycling becomes both less comfortable and more dangerous.

If you’re a very experienced runner you may feel comfortable running for longer into your pregnancy. It’s a very individual decision.

When you feel you should change the way you exercise then look for low-impact sports, like swimming, walking, hiking, water aerobics or yoga.

A brisk walk can be more effective than a plodding run, and exercising in water offers your body natural support.

If you opt for yoga you’ll be able to do courses tailored specifically to pregnant women.

Remember that the focus of your exercise during pregnancy should be about having a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Mum’s story

“Swimming made me feel good in the last few weeks”

“I was heavily pregnant in June and July, so I found going for a swim twice a week after work not only took the weight off my feet, but it helped me cool down. It also allowed me to get in touch with my body and therefore my baby. I didn’t do anything too taxing, but that weightless feeling I got in the pool gave me a real feelgood buzz.”

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Janet, 26, mum to Joe, 3

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