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Healthy Physical Activity in Pregnancy


pregnant woman holding hands and walking with man



It's never too late to start getting active, even if you're well into your pregnancy.  

Talk to your doctor or midwife first to make sure it’s safe - and then take your time easing into it.

If you’re new to exercise, start with 15 minutes of continuous activity three times a week.  If you’re already in pretty good shape, try 30-minute sessions four times a week.

Choose things you like and make it fun by joining a class, walking with friends or dancing to your favourite music. That way, you’ll be more likely to stay active. Start with a goal and gradually increase your level of activity - rewarding yourself along the way to keep your motivation going.

To get the greatest benefits, it’s best to combine different activities:

  • Endurance or Aerobic activities strengthen the heart and lungs.

    • Try: brisk walking, jogging, low impact aerobics, dancing, or swimming. 
  • Weight bearing or Strength activities strengthen muscles and bones and improve your posture. 
    • Try: weight/strength training regimes modified as needed while your pregnancy progresses.
  • Flexibility activities that involve bending and stretching help to keep your muscles and joints mobile.
    • Try: yoga, dancing or stretching. 

As your body changes, you may need to modify your activities to stay safe and comfortable. For example, if you experience:

  • tender or painful breasts - wear a comfortable, supportive bra
  • shortness of breath - rest; check with your healthcare provider if you have a family history of heart problems
  • headaches - make sure to drink plenty of water, especially before and after exercise
  • problems with balance - move carefully and avoid activities that may lead to falls

Know when to stop

Stop exercising and call your healthcare provider or HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 if you experience:

  • excessive shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • painful uterine contractions (more than 6-8 per hour)
  • vaginal bleeding
  • any “gush” of fluid from the vagina (suggesting premature rupture of the membranes)
  • dizziness or faintness
Source: Physical Activity Readiness Medical Examination for Pregnancy (PARmed X for pregnancy) © 2002, used with permission from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, Inc.

Resources & Links:

HealthLink BC: Back Pain in Pregnancy
HealthLink BC: Exercise During Pregnancy

Last Updated: August 8, 2013