Skip to main content

Warning notification:Warning

Unfortunately, you are using an outdated browser. Please, upgrade your browser to improve your experience with HSE. The list of supported browsers:

  1. Chrome
  2. Edge
  3. FireFox
  4. Opera
  5. Safari

Activities to avoid and recommended exercises

Most pregnancies are low risk and it is safe to exercise throughout pregnancy doing many common exercise activities. 

Avoid activities, contact sports or exercises that could cause you to lose balance, fall or be hit.

These include:

  • horse riding
  • skiing
  • field sports
  • gymnastics
  • cycling
  • scuba diving

After the first trimester (12 weeks), avoid lying flat on your back during exercise.

Non-urgent advice: Check with your GP, obstetrician or midwife if:

  • you have a higher risk pregnancy

It's really important to do this if you are doing more challenging, higher intensity exercise.

Avoid extremes of temperature


  • do not use hot tubs

  • do not use saunas

  • do not do hot yoga

  • do not do any exercise in very hot or humid weather

  • do not swim in very cold water

Cold water swimming can be an invigorating challenge for your body. But your growing baby does not have the same ability as you do to adjust to large changes in water temperature.

Lifting weights

If you are lifting weights, higher repetitions and lower weights are recommended. Repetitive weight lifting over 18kg could cause premature labour.

Recommended exercises

Aim to have a good fitness level throughout pregnancy without trying to reach peak fitness or train for an athletic competition. Low impact, aerobic exercise is usually more gentle on your joints and comfortable to do.

In the first and second trimester moderate exercise is good for your body and increases blood supply to your baby.

Walking, swimming and stationary bikes

Walking, swimming and stationary bikes are good forms of low impact, aerobic exercise during pregnancy.

Yoga, Pilates and aqua aerobics are also good and include stretching and strengthening. But do not lie flat on your back after the first trimester (12 weeks) when doing Pilates or yoga, for example.

Swimming (but not in cold water) or aqua aerobics is a great way to exercise during pregnancy. The water provides relief from the weight of your baby bump. This reduces the pressure on your back.

If you want to go to an exercise class, choose one that's aimed specifically for pregnancy.


Intense exercise is not advised in later pregnancy.

It reduces your lung capacity. Your body has to work harder to supply oxygen to your baby.

Pelvic floor exercises

All pregnant women should do pelvic floor exercises.

The pelvic muscles come under a lot of strain during pregnancy and childbirth. If these muscles are weak, you could have problems with bladder or bowel control.

Page last reviewed: 19 September 2022
Next review due: 19 September 2025