Pregnancy Information Center

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Pregnancy Fitness: Exercises for Beginners


Never been to the gym? Here's where to start when you're pregnant

Updated December 30, 2015

By Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie

There’s no better time to create a just-right exercise regimen than when you’re expecting. If you’re looking for your workout groove but aren’t sure where to start, try some of these beginner’s exercises and get on your way to a doctor-recommended active pregnancy.

The workouts that follow are generally safe to do throughout pregnancy, unless you have certain complications or your healthcare provider tells you to avoid all exercise. If certain exercises become impractical or uncomfortable, especially during the last trimester, stick to what feels good for you, and make sure to communicate with your provider.



Walking is a great way to start exercising, pregnant or not: it’s easy, you can do it anywhere and you don’t need any special equipment. Brisk walking has also been shown to improve mood, energy and sleep quality — all good things when your belly is growing bigger by the day!

Tip: Working up to 30 minutes on most days of the week is a great goal, but you can break that into chunks of as little as three intervals of 10 minutes each throughout the day.



Arguably the perfect exercise for pregnancy, water provides healthy resistance to gently tone your muscles (14 times the resistance of air!), while keeping you cool, taking pressure of your back and even limiting leg swelling. And thanks to the buoyancy of water, this is one activity that you can feel graceful doing even in the later stages!

Tip: If lap swimming isn’t your thing, try water walking or a water aerobics class for similar benefits.



Gentle on joints, biking is a great way to fortify your heart and your lungs while strengthening your legs.

Tip: Biking can get tricky as your belly grows and your balance gets iffy. Stick to stationary cycling if you feel unsteady, especially later in pregnancy.


Aerobics classes

Low-impact aerobics provide great full-body cardio. If you don’t belong to a gym or YMCA, check at your local community center or church for classes, or try a DVD.

Tip: If it’s not a class specifically designed for pregnancy, make sure to tell the instructor beforehand. She’ll be able to offer modifications for any exercises that are unsafe or uncomfortable for you.

For general safety tips on exercising while pregnant, talk with your healthcare provider or read this.

Published October 17, 2011. 


Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie is a health and fitness writer, as well as a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise. She regularly contributes to national magazines including Fitness, Shape and SELF, and is the author of Tone Every Inch.

Reviewed by Elisabeth Aron, MD, MPH, FACOG on October 5, 2015.
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