What Type of Exercise is Best During Pregnancy

By Melissa Woodward


Melissa Woodward is a Mum of one with her second baby due in January 2019. She shares her stories from becoming a Mum into motherhood as well as her knowledge of fitness, massage and nutrition in her role as Remedial Massage Therapist and Women’s Health Coach at Evolution Health Services.

Melissa is passionate about working with women through all stages of pregnancy and parenthood. She provides Remedial Massage during pregnancy and is experiencing in assisting women return to exercise post baby. Melissa understands the struggles to fall pregnant, what happens to the body during pregnancy and how to safely recovery after a c-section as well as abdominal separation.

She believes in educating to empower people to make the best decisions for their personal health and circumstances.


Pregnancy is a time of fear, confusion and usually illness. We are often battling fatigue, pain and keeping up with our life’s responsibilities. We see other women that appear to be managing it all and keeping fit during pregnancy. What type of exercise is best during pregnancy is a common question I receive as a Personal Trainer. We often aim to have a perfect fit pregnancy, instead we should be focusing on how we can experience a more comfortable, pain free and empowering pregnancy.

Exercise is a very broad term that can cover so many activities. It can be as simple as walking through to running. It may be bodyweight or light weight strength training through to heavy weightlifting. Yoga, mediation or Pilates may be another option. We are often looking for the magic answer, but the truth is that every body is different and every pregnancy will be experienced differently so you need to consider what will suit you best.

There are many factors that determine what type of exercise you can do during pregnancy. The best place to start is your goal. What is it that you hope to achieve from exercise during pregnancy?

  • Preventing back or hip pain, headaches or neck and shoulder pain.
  • Feeling strong and full of energy
  • To aim for a drug free labour and natural childbirth
  • Improved posture and ability to cope with the changing load
  • To relax and stop complaining about how sick you feel (that’s my goal at the moment)
  • To prove you are a superwoman and to complete a marathon while 36 weeks pregnant

The last one was thrown in to be funny as we often have unrealistic expectations about what we feel we should be doing during pregnancy. You are a superwoman regardless of how far you run, you are growing a human and that’s pretty awesome!

What type of exercise also depends on your activity prior to pregnancy. If you were an athlete or participated in regular intense exercise prior to pregnancy, you may be able to maintain a higher level of activity to someone who didn’t exercise at all. If you want to start a new workout program, it needs to be appropriate for your body. In the past, the advice was that you can continue to do whatever you did before pregnancy, just avoid starting something brand new. While some of this is true, there are activities that you can commence in pregnancy.

Here are the guidelines I follow when recommending exercise for my clients:

  • Aim to complete moderate intensity exercise – think a brisk walk, body weight exercises or appropriate weight lifting programs for your current fitness.
  • Aim for low impact exercises to prevent pressure on your pelvic floor and loosening joints.
  • Consider adding Pre-natal Yoga, Meditation or Pilates as part of your training to improve strength, relaxation and breathing in labour.
  • Focus on building strength through your whole body, improving posture and pelvic floor function.
  • Ensure that the exercises are appropriate for your stage of pregnancy, including positioning.
  • Find activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good. Avoid activities that make you feel exhausted.
  • Avoid exercise in a heated environment and wearing clothing to prevent overheating.

If you are unsure where to start, speak with your GP, Midwife or Obstetrician to let you know of any risk factors that may prevent you from participating in exercise. There are some instances where exercise may not be suitable. One of the most frustrating things I found is that everyone tells you what not to do. Health professionals forget to tell you what you CAN do in pregnancy. Therefore, I aim to give you options of what may be suitable but always recommend you consider your personal circumstances.

If you need help deciding what may work for your pregnancy, get in touch with me at melissa@evolutionhealthservices.com.au or visit our website to get more information about what we offer, www.evolutionhealthservices.com.au

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