How to exercise during pregnancy

Pregnant women need to stay active. Even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing, exercise during pregnancy is a must. It can alleviate back pain, swollen feet, mood swings, and low energy, among the long list of pesky side-effects to growing a new life within your body. Exercise also helps prepare your body for giving birth.

Why Should You Exercise?

Exercise is doubly important for pregnant women in Singapore. A 2019 study found that 24% of pregnant women in Singapore were overweight, and about 11% were obese1. Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is also alarmingly prevalent, affecting almost 20% of pregnancies in the country – that’s twice the global average of seven to 10%2.

This need not be the case for Singaporean mums-to-be. Exercise during pregnancy can keep gestational weight gain (GWG) at a minimum, and it reduces the risk of obesity and the complications that come with it, including GDM.

How Can You Exercise Safely?

It’s safe to exercise during pregnancy. According to Singapore’s official “Guidelines on Physical Activity and Exercise in Pregnancy3,” regular exercise has little to no risk to healthy women with no pregnancy complications. In fact, these guidelines encourage pregnant women in Singapore to exercise for at least 2.5 hours each week, or at least half an hour each day, for at least five days a week.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Always ask for your doctor’s advice, especially in later pregnancy, and especially if you’re embarking on new exercises or activities you’re not familiar with.
  • Drink lots of water preceding and following your workout.
  • Refrain from eating two to three hours prior to working out. Digestion during exercise can make you feel heavy and dizzy, and it can lead to acid reflux.
  • Stay in tune with your body, and stop if anything feels wrong. It’s okay to take a break. Knowing when you need rest is an important part of exercising.

What Exercises Can You Do?

If you’re healthy and have no pregnancy complications, you can try any one of these low-impact exercises for pregnant women:

1. Brisk walking
Best for: Convenience and accessibility

Brisk walking during pregnancy is one of the most accessible activities for pregnant women in Singapore. Even with limited to no exercise experience, pregnant mums can take on brisk-walking with little fuss.

A half-hour of brisk walking each day is ideal. Make sure you wear comfy walking shoes with the right amount of padding and support. Use your phone or a timer to set intervals for speeding up and slowing down, starting off and ending at an easy, casual pace for warm-up and cool-down.

It’s best to head out during cooler hours of the day. Keep drinking water on hand, and feel free to sit and rest, with your feet elevated, at any moment you get tired.

2. Water Aerobics
Best for: Extra safe and low-impact workouts

Water aerobics make for the safest low-impact workouts for pregnant women. They’re ideal if you’re hampered by swollen feet, back pain, or aching joints. There’s also little to no chance of falling out of balance.

There are different types of prenatal pool exercises to sign up for in Singapore, from water aerobics, to swimming lessons designed for pregnant women. Look for the programs best suited for the trimester you’re in.

For easy pool exercises you can do on your own, you can try walking or “jogging” in the pool. You can also swim across the pool with a kickboard, or tread water for cardio.

Standing exercises can also be adapted to the water. You’ll find that jumping jacks, squats, lunges, and leg lifts are much easier and gentler in this environment. You can cool down and relax after your workout by floating with a pool noodle or swim tube for support.

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3. Indoor Cycling
Best for: Moderate-intensity cardio

Indoor cycling while pregnant is safe and ideal for low-impact cardio. With plenty of indoor cycling studios in Singapore, pregnant women can take their pick among different classes and setups.

Standard cycling classes are entirely doable during early pregnancy, but it’s safer nonetheless to sign up for prenatal cycling programs, or choose instructors armed with the experience of coaching pregnant mums.

Talk to the instructor before class to let them know how far along you are. Ask them for the modifications best suited to the trimester you’re in, and list your specific needs and goals. Most importantly, let them know what your doctor advises and what they caution against.

If you’re pregnant while cycling, tweak your bike’s settings to moderate intensity at most. You can wear a heart monitor to better keep track of your heart rate. In later trimesters, raise your bike’s handlebars to keep yourself in a more upright position. Feel free to skip standing segments of the workout and stay seated instead, especially if you’re prone to back pain, sore joints, or swollen feet.

4. Prenatal Yoga
Best for: Mind, body, and breathing harmony

Yoga trains both the body and mind to stay calm and centered in the face of difficulty. It can equip expecting mums with deep breathing techniques and mindfulness or meditation practice that prove essential amid the physical, mental, and emotional discomfort of pregnancy and giving birth.

There’s a handful of yoga studios in Singapore where you can sign up for pregnancy yoga. Take a private, one-on-one session to address your specific needs, or join fellow mums-to-be in fun and supportive group settings. For prenatal yoga stretches you can safely try on your own, check out our guide to pregnancy yoga.

5. Strength Training
Best for: Getting fit and labour-ready

Strength training helps you maintain good posture and balance even as your body keeps changing and your center of gravity shifts throughout your pregnancy. With targeted exercises for the pelvic floor, strength training will also work out the muscles you’ll need for labour.

Strength training during pregnancy can take on many forms. You can use any combination of free weights, resistance bands, or gym equipment to personalize your own fitness routine according to the trimester you’re in. If you’re new to strength-training, look for professionals to guide you and keep you safe.

There are many fitness classes and coaches that specialize in exercises for pregnancy in Singapore. Take your pick from gym workouts, Fitball classes, Pilates, barre, and aerial yoga designed for expectant mums. With this variety, you’re sure to find a regimen that suits your taste and style.

Preparing yourself for the big day? Join the Enfamama A+ Club today to access premium members-only video content on baby care, plus tips on pregnancy exercises and nutrition.

1. Singapore’s Guidelines on Physical Activity and Exercise in Pregnancy Launched - KK Women's and Children’s Hospital,
Accessed October 24, 2021
2. Gestational diabetes screening programme yields health benefits for pregnant women and babies - Singapore General Hospital,
Accessed October 24, 2021
3. Guidelines on Physical Activity and Exercise in Pregnancy - Perinatal Society of Singapore,
Accessed October 24, 2021
*Terms and conditions apply.