The Best Exercises for Every Stage of Pregnancy

pregnant woman doing standing yoga poseSo, you’re growing another human inside of you. Congratulations! If you were active before your pregnancy, being (relatively) active during your pregnancy is a great and safe way to keep you and your baby healthy.

Why Exercise During Pregnancy?

We get it – your body is already doing overtime getting nutrients to your future chubby-cheeked, button-nosed mini Michelin man. But light exercise is really good not just for your pregnant body, but for the baby, too. Here’s how:

  • It boosts your mood: Here’s a no brainer. Exercise releases endorphins that help balance all of the crazy hormonal magic happening in your brain.
  • It reduces pregnancy complications: Things like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are serious, if relatively rare, conditions that exercise can help prevent.
  • It increases bloodflow: …and getting that bloodflow to your fetus is key to helping it grow.
  • It reduces pregnancy symptoms: Backaches, constipation, bloating, swelling: you name it, exercise can help.

Where to Start

First: we’re not your doctor, so before you hop back on the elliptical, ask your physician if it makes sense for you to get in on an exercise routine. Next, find a routine that fits your schedule and include the moves below! Remember: take it easy, pay attention to your body. The second you feel discomfort, take a break.

Best Exercises for the First Trimester


Pilates is an easy way to build or maintain strength early on in your pregnancy. It’s low impact enough to be safe, but intense enough to help build muscle that will prevent backaches and general pains as your baby bump continues to grow. Do this once a week.

Stationary Bike or Spin

Adjust the resistance, grab a magazine or plug into your favorite podcast, and ride, baby, ride. This is just as safe to do in your third trimester as it is in your first – it’s low impact but keeps your heart pumping and your blood moving.

Free Weights and Kettlebells

You’re going to be toting around a baby for the next couple years, so there’s no better time than your pregnancy to build up your arm, shoulder, and back muscles. Here are some arm exercises for beginners and the best kettlebell exercises so you can build lean muscle and carry your baby with ease.

A Personal Trainer

No, seriously – the first trimester is the perfect time to build a relationship with a personal trainer that can be with you throughout your pregnancy. Especially when you’re doing cardio or free weights, a personal trainer can help you use proper form that will keep both you and your baby safe as you pursue your fitness goals.

The Best Exercises for the Second Trimester


Less intense than Pilates, but just as good at keeping you stretched and strong (not to mention the mental health benefits), yoga is a great exercise to start in the second trimester if you haven’t been doing it already. (Better yet, start with a combined class.) Important notes: don’t do anything that will mess with your abdomen or lower back. In regular classes you could be doing backbends, laying on your back, or twisting your abdomen. Those are big no-no’s for pregnant women.


This is the ubiquitous pregnancy exercise. Walking is exercise, and hiking is a way to up the ante without adding impact. Aim to dedicate 30 minutes of walking time 3-4 times a week.

Step Aerobics

Again, low impact, but high cardio. Right now, as your baby is developing, it needs all of the bloodflow it can get, and cardio is your best bet to get both of you flushed and ready to conquer the day.

Best Exercises for the Third Trimester


Take your hiking to the sidewalk, treadmill, or elliptical. You’ve got more pressure pretty much everywhere – your abdomen, your knees and ankles, your back – so a flat surface (without sneaky roots and loose rocks) is your best friend. Keep up the frequency – you’ll still be okay doing this for 30 minutes 3-4 times a week.


Go ahead and put that baby bump in a bathing suit and get in the water. Swimming or water aerobics are great for overall toning and cardio with absolutely no impact. Plus, who doesn’t love splashing around?

Pelvic Floor Exercises

With almost a full-grown baby in you, your pelvic floor muscles are stretched out and weakened from constant pressure. Prevent leaking and discomfort with pelvic floor exercises like Kegels (convenient to do anywhere) or squats, bird dogs, and light ab work.

You’ve got enough on your mind as you prepare your home, routine, and life for your baby’s arrival. Let us help. Try out a free personal training session to see how we can make a pregnancy workout plan that will work for your body and goals.