How I’m Staying Active During Pregnancy

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“What can I do for exercise?” Was one of the very first questions I had for the OB at my first appointment when I was only 11 weeks pregnant. I knew it was important to stay active not only for my health, but my baby’s health as well. I also knew there were some restrictions, like not lying on my back or stomach, and avoiding any crunch-type exercise. I wanted to know what I could do.

For me, exercise isn’t optional. I think of it almost as a prescription. When I’m active, I sleep way better and it helps keep my blood pressure regular, my energy up, and my emotions stable. When I’m feeling upset or stressed, getting my blood pumping and heart rate up completely changes my mood. I didn’t always think of exercise as a coping mechanism, but for the past number of years, it has definitely become a great one (and one that’s scientifically proven as well!).

Other than keeping both our bodies healthy, I also want to stay as active as I can during pregnancy for a couple of other reasons: a) so it won’t be as challenging to get back into an exercise routine afterwards, and b) to keep my strength up, so carrying around a baby won’t feel as difficult.

Exercise During Pregnancy

I keep getting asked, though, if it’s safe to workout, or if my exercise has changed due to pregnancy. While it definitely depends on each individual and one should always consult her healthcare provider before implementing an exercise routine, it is generally safe to continue with normal physical activity during pregnancy as long as the exercise is something the body is familiar with (1).

For example, if I was training for marathon running pre-pregnancy, I could likely continue with this type of exercise during pregnancy (provided I had a normal, low-risk pregnancy), but it would not be recommended to start marathon training while pregnant. The same is true for any type of physical activity. I wouldn’t want to all of a sudden start cross-fit or power lifting if I wasn’t already doing those things beforehand.

How I'm staying active during pregnancy
My Experience

During the first two trimesters, exercise was still fairly normal for me, which is typically a mix of low, moderate, and high intensity cardio and strength training. I did tire more easily, so I usually worked out every other day instead of my usual five to six days a week, and I generally kept workouts to a max of thirty minutes, or I ended up feeling exhausted the rest of the day. For example, my usual three to four mile runs went down to two miles more often than not and my pace slowed. That did change for a couple of weeks later in the second trimester, which was great! I was able to run three miles and at a faster pace simply because I had more energy.

And when I did run, it was mainly on the treadmill at home. Partly because I had to pee the minute I started running (even if I just went), and if I needed to stop for any reason, I could without being stranded outside. Plus, some of those early days when I felt very fatigued, watching Hometown while I managed a slow two miles was my only motivation – ha!

Once the third trimester hit though, things began to change. I could still run, but it was starting to get more uncomfortable as my belly grew and I wasn’t running as frequently. I had been in a routine of alternating between running and strength training, but as running became less and less, I started looking into other options.

Up until this point, I had typically been creating my own workouts. I am not a personal trainer, but I was studying to become one in 2019, so I still had some knowledge behind building a workout, but only limited information about what was safe during pregnancy.

Additionally, I started getting tired again, both physically and mentally. I wanted to change up my workouts, perform moves that were safe as my belly grew, but I didn’t want to think about it anymore. I just wanted to follow someone and be done!

After trying some workouts on her Instagram stories, I purchased Kim Perry’s Fit Pregnancy Guides. It was honestly one of the best decisions I made. Her workouts were dynamic, left me feeling like I actually exercised (a lot of other pregnancy workouts I found to be too easy compared to what I was used to), and they were the type of workouts I enjoy most when not running: easy to follow, minimal equipment circuits. I could adjust the weights and the number of times I completed each workout depending on how I was feeling. And best of all? I just had to press play!

So, that was a lifesaver. I still missed running though, and there were a few times I was able to get a good run in, though that has slowed down. At 36-37 weeks I can make it only about 5 minutes before I have to stop. Walks and continued use of Kim Perry’s guide may just be what I’m limited to now, and that’s okay!

How I'm staying active during pregnancy.
Hayden was taking this picture and he thought he was hilarious since I was waiting for him in this position. When I realized what he was doing I laughed too!
Tips for Staying Active During Pregnancy
  1. If you’re in need of motivation, my number one recommendation is to start by putting on your workout clothes and shoes (that goes for anyone – pregnant or not!). Sometimes this alone, gets you in the mood to exercise.
  2. Find some good music to listen to, or TV show to watch. Sometimes just starting the music puts me in a workout mood, or knowing that my run (or walk) is the only time I’ll have to watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette – haha!
  3. Give yourself a small, achievable goal and a reach goal (ex. If I can do 10 minutes, great! If I do 20 minutes, even better!) That way, you’re not beating yourself up for not doing as much as you wanted to (or think you should) – especially if you’re not feeling up to it!
  4. Challenge yourself if you’d like, but don’t push yourself too much. Do what you feel you can safely accomplish, and know that it’s okay if it’s not what you are used to.
  5. Wear comfortable clothes. For awhile I was able to fit into my pre-pregnancy workout clothes, but soon enough I needed maternity-specific gear as my belly (and chest) grew out of everything!
  6. Stay well-nourished & hydrated – there were a handful or times I had planned to workout after work, but decided to eat instead because I felt even a small snack wasn’t enough to properly fuel both my baby and me for the extra energy expenditure.
My Favorite Maternity & Bump Friendly Activewear
  1. Maternity Breathe ON Racerback Tank Top from Old Navy (I have it in dark bottle & mount shasta. I started with one, and loved it so much, bought it another color!)
  2. Maternity Rollover-Waist Run Shorts from Old Navy (I have these in two colors, but did have to wait for them to be in stock in my size – worth while though as they are so comfortable! Again, started with one, and bought another!)
  3. Walmart tanks – I just sized up one and it fit for awhile without feeling too huge!
  4. Louisa Maternity & Postpartum Support Leggings from Kindred Bravely – on the pricier side, but high quality & supportive!
  5. Bamboo Nursing Hoodie from Kindred Bravely – again, on the pricier side, but, this hoodie is both maternity & nursing-friendly, super comfortable material, and just what I was personally looking for! I wanted something warm enough, over the head (not full-zip), and form fitting (not super flowy).
  6. Sports bras from Underarmour – not maternity specific, but I found ones that were supportive enough. Not everyone needs this, but the bras I had that were supportive no longer fit, and ones that fit weren’t supportive enough to run in, so new bras were a must for me!


  1. Exercise During Pregnancy. ACOG. July 2019.

What has your exercise experience been like during pregnancy? Do you have any tips or go-to activewear?

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