Exercises for pregnant women (pre-delivery): check out the options

Pregnancy is a period of many changes, adaptations and news for women. In addition to the expectation of a new life as a mother, several reactions occur in the body itself.

Symptoms such as nausea (which can be frequent), dietary changes, adaptation to the growth of the belly and other changes are part of these 9 months.

It may be necessary to make some adjustments, but the life of the pregnant woman does not need to change completely, nor is it necessary to stay still. The practice of physical exercises, for example, need not – and should not – be left out.

There are several benefits associated with physical activities by pregnant women, such as maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness, preventing excessive weight gain, contributing to the proper functioning of the intestine, improving posture, strengthening the muscle tone of the pelvic region, improving circulation, aid in hormonal control and recovery after childbirth.

To start doing some activity, it is always important to talk to your doctor first and make sure there are no restrictions. But, in general, it is important to be on the move even at the beginning of pregnancy.

With an adequate pace and with the proper care, exercise during pregnancy can bring benefits to physical and mental health.

Know the main activities that do well during pregnancy:


Pre-delivery exercises

When the news of a pregnancy arrives, many feelings, changes and new habits for the next nine months arise. To ensure the well-being and health of the mother and baby, physical activity is recommended for the vast majority of pregnant women, except for those with medical limitations.

Considering that there must be more care during pregnancy, there are some activities that are better adapted to the period, bringing benefits even for the moment of delivery and for recovery. Meet some of them:

Water aerobics

This is a highly recommended activity for pregnant women, for several reasons. As it is an exercise performed in water, the impact of movements on the joints becomes quite reduced, which helps to not overload the knees.

The associated benefits include physical and mental well-being, muscle strengthening, stress reduction and anxiety . In addition, it helps prevent back pain, which can be common during pregnancy.

As it strengthens muscles, water aerobics also becomes an important exercise for women who wish to have a normal birth, as it is an activity that strengthens the muscles of the perineum.

Located between the anus and the vagina, the perineum is the region responsible for providing support to all pelvic organs (bladder, rectum and uterus).

Especially during the gestational period, the perineal musculature is quite required, since it also supports the baby’s overweight. In addition, during normal delivery, the region will stretch for the baby to pass, so strengthening it is essential for rapid recovery.

The care for water aerobics refers mainly to the choice of clubs or gyms that care for daily hygiene, as there is a risk of developing urinary infections. In addition, it is essential that there is the monitoring of qualified professionals throughout the practice.

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Frequent walks are great physical exercises for pregnant women, especially for sedentary women, since they can find in the activity easier to abandon sedentary lifestyle.

Walks help to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and legs, improve circulation and posture, enable greater disposition and, in addition, help in the fit of the baby.

It is important to emphasize that there is a space in the bone structure of the woman destined for the baby, in which he must fit properly. When this does not occur, normal childbirth can be impaired and, sometimes, impossible.

Due to the movement of the pelvic region, walking can assist in the conduct of normal childbirth.

However, to start walking, the pregnant woman needs to maintain some basic care:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes;
  • Avoid uneven places to reduce the risk of falls;
  • Avoid treadmills, or when using, be careful with distractions such as using a cell phone or paying attention to television;
  • Maintain a slower pace, especially if you are not used to exercising.

The walking routine can be between 3 to 5 times a week, at times when the sun is not very strong, always following the doctor’s instructions and, preferably, a physical educator.


Stretching during pregnancy, whether in specific classes or at home, helps to reduce possible back pain and muscle pain, which can be common during pregnancy. It is also considered a relaxing activity, contributing to the reduction of stress and anxiety.

In addition, stretching helps to reduce swelling and improve circulation, thereby providing better oxygenation for the baby. Other benefits associated with stretching include relief from constipation and gas .

Physical activities that require more attention and focus on the body are also a way for pregnant women to better understand their own limits and possibilities. As a form of self-knowledge, stretching can be a way of understanding and adapting to physical changes, such as a constantly growing belly.

Breathing exercises

Working on breathing during pregnancy is very important, as it promotes the improvement of oxygenation, calms and works the respiratory capacity.

Exercises can be done in a focused way, such as breathing slowly and deeply, or combined with specific modalities. It is worth remembering that monitoring and driving by qualified professionals is important.

Read more: The mental (and physical) benefits of deep breathing

Among the modalities that give more attention to breathing are:


Yoga is an interesting activity to work on breathing and concentration, bringing a greater sense of well-being and relieving anxiety for pregnant women, through low-impact movements.

Classes can be more general (in gyms, for example) or more specific (private or studio, for example). But there is always an intense work of stretching and breathing, so the sport can be an interesting option both for pregnant women who are anxious about pregnancy, as well as for those who wish to be in body movement.

In this way, yoga is able to provide physical benefits such as improved posture, flexibility, reduced back pain and strengthened pelvic muscles.


Like yoga, pilates is also a relaxing activity for pregnant women and helps to provide a greater sense of well-being. In addition to calming it down, it can be done to help prevent back pain, cramps and impact injuries.

It is also interesting because it helps in posture, circulation and reduces swelling (common in the legs, arms and feet).

Pilates is also an activity that helps to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, the region responsible for supporting the bladder, uterus and intestine. In addition, it also controls the muscles of the vagina, urethra and anus.

At the time of delivery, the pelvic region lengthens or stretches for the baby to pass. Therefore, strengthening these muscles can help at the time of delivery, including accelerating recovery.

To start in the sport, it is interesting that the pregnant woman seeks specific classes for pregnant women, through physical therapists or physical education teachers specialized in pilates. Thus, the exercises will be better adapted.

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Common and stationary bicycle

Cycling is a great exercise and quite common among people who prefer outdoor activities. However, during pregnancy, it is not always possible to maintain the pedaling routine.

Not that abandoning the bike is mandatory, but pregnant women should redouble their care, because as the pregnancy progresses, the belly becomes heavier and difficulties in maintaining balance may arise.

Due to the risks of falling or the insecurity of the pregnant woman to pedal on the street, for example, the exercise bike can be an alternative, because besides allowing greater support for the lower back, the hip oscillates much less, making the activity less uncomfortable.

It is important to remember that there are different types of bikes (taller, more elongated) and that some can become uncomfortable with the growth of the belly. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the professional helping to conduct the exercise.


Swimming, as well as water aerobics, can provide some advantages for pregnant women. For being an activity in the water, for example, the risk of injury is lower, due to the reduced impact on the joints.

The ideal is that the pregnant woman is in good health, something that should be evaluated by the doctor who accompanies her. The intensity must also be adequate, always respecting the limits of the body itself, therefore, the physical education professional is essential.

As it is an activity that requires greater physical preparation, it may not be the best option for sedentary pregnant women. However, if done at a light or moderate pace, there are no major restrictions.

It is only necessary to take some precautions during practice, such as performing stretches, maintaining a balance in frequency and intensity, being cautious during movements and when entering and leaving the pool, due to the risk of falls and injuries.

The health benefits of the pregnant woman include better movement and strengthening of muscles, reduced stress and improved quality of sleep and breathing.


The weight during pregnancy is an exercise modality that requires greater care and is not often a viable option for all pregnant women.

For those who have never practiced and want to start weight training exercises, it is best to start at a lighter pace and with less impact.

There needs to be an activity routine focused on the limitations of pregnancy (for example, avoiding the abdominals). Therefore, it is essential that there is always the accompaniment of a physical education professional.

For women who already practice weight training and wish to continue during the gestation period, it is advisable that the training is adapted, reducing the loads and the intensity

The frequency of exercise per week may vary, but in general it should not exceed 3 days a week.

In this case, as in other modalities, the pregnant woman must be aware of her limits and, when noticing any symptoms or malaise during the activities, immediately seek a doctor.

Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor

Exercises designed to strengthen the pelvic muscles are important so that the woman can have a faster recovery. During pregnancy, the pelvic floor is even more required, which can weaken it.

Strengthening the pelvic floor helps prevent problems such as urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction and provides greater support for the organs in that region.

To strengthen it, one of the exercises that can be indicated is the contraction of these muscles. It can be done anywhere, but it is important that the woman be careful not to do it improperly.

It is not always easy to know if the correct muscles are being mobilized. But to facilitate the performance of the activity, it is worth the tip: it is as if you wanted to interrupt the pee.

In general, they consist of contraction, support (holding the contracted muscle) and relaxation tactics.

Other exercises include activities done with ball and hip elevation, for example. However, the forms and frequencies of pelvic strengthening must be determined by doctors or professionals.

Postpartum exercises

Performing some type of physical exercise is important at all times in life. Keeping the body in motion – before, during and after pregnancy – is always welcome, due to the many benefits it can provide.

Despite being a difficult time, in which the woman is going through physical and emotional changes resulting from the postpartum period, trying to maintain a moderate exercise routine helps to relax and allows for a time of self-care.

After the baby is born, the recommendations for exercise remain very similar. To start, it is essential to talk to the doctor and check the ideal time to start some activity. Depending on the type of delivery, the time may vary, as recovery is different.

There is no rush and the pace should be resumed gradually, so the important thing is to start slowly and increase the frequency or intensity as the body allows.

Exercises for the pelvic floor should also be maintained after delivery, as they assist in recovery and prevent further problems, such as urinary changes.

Care during exercise

Some precautions are essential when carrying out activities, to avoid risks to the mother and baby:

  • Obtain medical clearance to start activities: talk to your doctor and always make a physical assessment with the physical education professional;
  • Maintain a healthy frequency: do not overdo the intensity of the exercises;
  • Drink plenty of water: before, during and after exercise, water is essential, so always keep a small bottle nearby;
  • Avoid the practice of exercises during times when temperatures are higher: especially in drier and warmer times, care must be redoubled;
  • Wear comfortable and light clothing: in addition to improving body movement and reducing the risk of injury, the right clothing prevents excessive sweating and dehydration;
  • Be attentive to the appearance of symptoms: in case of any malaise, it is important to stop the activity immediately and seek medical help;
  • Eat light meals 30 minutes before starting exercise.

Read more: What to eat during pregnancy?

What should be the frequency of activities during pregnancy?

The number of days per week and how many hours should be spent practicing physical exercises can be different for each pregnant woman, taking into account their physical conditioning, their habits prior to pregnancy and their well-being.

An average of 3 to 5 days of light exercise can be suggested, for those mothers who practice little or no activity. But the safest way is to follow medical recommendations and maintain constant monitoring.

How do I know if I’m overdoing the exercises?

It is difficult to establish the limit of physical exercises for each one, because physical conditioning, limitations and the type of activity interfere. During pregnancy, a more delicate moment, which should be taken into account are the medical recommendations.

In addition, each woman must understand and respect her own limits. Watch for signs of exaggerated tiredness , muscle aches, difficulty keeping pace during activity, and changes in the sleep cycle. These may be indications that it is better to reduce the intensity.

Read more: Sleep: why do we sleep, disorders, medicines, how to sleep better?

Exercises can help a lot in pregnancy and recovery after childbirth, but without proper care they can bring risks to the health of the mother and baby.

What symptoms are an alert?

To find out if you are exercising healthily, notice the appearance of symptoms such as extreme tiredness or shortness of breath, initially.

For example, when walking, find out if it is possible to continue talking quietly, without becoming breathless or short of breath. If you find it difficult to keep pace, it is important to slow down.

Other symptoms that are a warning include:

  • Chest pain;
  • Pain in the abdomen;
  • Sudden swelling of the feet, hands and face;
  • Palpitations;
  • Dizziness;
  • Decreased baby’s movements;
  • Fever;
  • Vomiting and nausea;
  • Contractions;
  • Lack of air;
  • Burning sensation when urinating;
  • Vaginal bleeding.

When any of the signs listed appear, the pregnant woman should seek help from a doctor.

What exercises should not be practiced during pregnancy?

Pregnant women should avoid contact exercises that pose a risk of falling or shocking the belly. Some examples include:

  • Jumping exercises;
  • Cycling (competition or races);
  • Horsemanship;
  • Ball sports (football, handball, volleyball, basketball, etc.);
  • Crossfit;
  • Muay Thai;
  • Martial arts.

Some yoga positions should also be avoided, as it is not recommended that the pregnant woman spend a very long period with the belly up, especially from the 7th month, when the baby’s weight is greater.

In this position, the uterus may end up compressing some vein near the spine, causing pressure drop and reduced blood flow.

Common questions

What exercises are recommended for pregnant women in the first trimester?

During this gestational start, the exercises should be done in a moderate way. Obtaining medical clearance, the pregnant woman can choose to walk, stretch, swim, aqua aerobics, weight training and pilates, for example.

The pace during these activities, however, must be adequate for pregnancy, taking due care and respecting their own limits.

Can overweight pregnant women exercise?

-Yeah . Overweight pregnant women should also follow medical guidelines regarding physical exercise. Having an adequate follow-up and a particular evaluation is what will define this possibility.

With medical clearance, it is important that the mother seeks guidance from a physical educator who can adapt the exercises to the limitations of this period.

As it is normal (and necessary) for women to gain weight during pregnancy, activities can make this process as healthy as possible, as long as it is balanced with a balanced diet and medical monitoring.

In order to maintain a healthy weight, for your own health and that of your baby, it is also essential to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet.

When can the pregnant woman do physical activities?

There are studies, such as the one published by the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, that indicate that the practice of exercises in the case of healthy pregnant women can be carried out from the beginning to the end of pregnancy. But there is no rule and the evaluation of the responsible doctor is always essential.

Each pregnant woman must seek an individual assessment from the responsible physician, always respecting the limits of her own body.

Read more: Gestational Calculator (weeks, months): how to calculate, ultrasound

There are several exercise options to keep you moving and healthy during your pregnancy. As long as they are done with medical monitoring and respecting their own limits, the benefits are many!

If you are pregnant and are interested in starting an activity, feel free to tell us in our comment space. Thanks for reading!