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Fitness for pregnant women

Sport is good – in pregnancy too. Moderate exercise is healthy both for you and your baby. It makes you more balanced, fitter, more able to cope with the typical discomfort of pregnancy and improves circulation. Exercise helps prevent water retention in the arms and legs and improves digestion. In addition, an athletic body is better able to cope with the effort of giving birth.

pregnant woman swimming

Being active: exercise is good for both mother and baby

As a keen sports enthusiast, you will already know your own limits and what your body can comfortably achieve. In pregnancy it is important to shift down a gear however, and to speak to your doctor about whether you can keep doing your favourite sport and, if so, what intensity level is appropriate.

In our table we show you which kinds of sports are suitable and how you can adapt your training.


Type of sport



Jogging/running Suitable Run more slowly than before (in endurance training make sure you keep your heart rate under 140 – this provides both mother and child with a good amount of oxygen), reduce the amount of stretching, wear cushioned running shoes, change to low-impact walking in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Swimming Ideal, relieves the joints. The body weighs less when swimming. Possible throughout.
Cycling Suitable, low-impact Possible throughout, best with a bicycle with high handlebars (city bike), so the stomach is not restricted.
In-line skating Less suitable, danger of falling over Only for professionals and only up to 6 months of pregnancy, at a slower pace and for shorter distances.
Tennis, badminton, squash Only for experienced players, puts strain on the joints Possible up until about 7 months of pregnancy. Avoid playing with an ambitious partner, however, since very active running around and stopping is not good for pregnant women.
Aerobics, fitness gymnastics, dancing Suitable in moderation Only choose low-intensity courses, avoid jumps.
Cross-country skiing Suitable Possible throughout, gradually reduce the intensity.
Hiking Ideal, low-impact Possible throughout, do not climb above 2,500 metres.
Walking / Nordic walking Ideal, low-impact Possible throughout, wear specifically-designed walking shoes with cushioning.
Aqua-jogging / aqua-aerobics Ideal, the water supports the weight of the body Possible throughout, in endurance training make sure you maintain a heartbeat under 140 – this provides both mother and child with a good amount of oxygen

pregnant woman exercisingThink carefully: your goal is not about breaking an Olympic record, but about promoting a sense of well-being in both mother and child. It is important to avoid these types of sports: dangerous martial arts such as Karate, Tae Kwon-Do and boxing. Adventurous activities such as hang-gliding, skydiving and diving. Sports where there is a risk of injury, such as team sports, Alpine skiing or horse riding.

Fitness for non-sporty types

Even if you were previously not very keen on sport, you can still start a moderate training programme. Take it slowly and avoid heavy or jarring movements. A short walk on the way home from work or on the way to the shops is just right. How about trying a new sport? Our tip: yoga, a great combination of relaxation, breathing techniques and exercise. You will learn to relax specific muscles – which is important during labour and helps cope with pain. Using the correct breathing technique means your baby will be better supplied with oxygen. There are yoga teachers who are specifically trained in yoga practice for pregnancy. Remember: sport uses up fluid. Make sure you drink enough, this means at least 1.5-2 litres. Mineral water rich in minerals is well worth trying, e.g. Nestlé PURE LIFE.

pregnant woman relaxing in the park
Being active with a belly

As the pregnancy progresses, anything that supports the belly while relieving strain on the back is particularly good. For example, let the water bear your weight when in the swimming pool – a wonderful feeling! Aqua-jogging and aqua-aerobics really get the circulation flowing properly. As well as this, alternate between warm and cool water. This has a stimulating effect and avoids water retention in the legs.

Take part in a pregnancy fitness class where you will learn exercises that prepare you for the birth and help relax you. In the meantime, a walk or hike are especially good. To counteract the stress of everyday life, it is also a good idea to take naps and use relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga.

Fit the whole day long

Make time in your day for a daily exercise routine. In the car, for instance, use the time waiting at traffic lights to tense and relax your back and bottom seven times. Keeping your upper body straight, bend forward in a stretch and hold for seven seconds.