Take it from me: I worked out from the start of my pregnancy until my contractions started. I’m serious! I was at the gym walking on a treadmill when my contractions became noticeable.

If you feel great during pregnancy (and even if you don’t), it pays to work out, in order to stay flexible, limber and physically healthy. Plus, it’s something you can even do with your partner!

Working out during pregnancy is one of my favorite topics to talk about with expectant moms, so check out what I recommend!

Cardio workouts

Here are a few things I did during pregnancy for cardio, which is one of my preferred ways to work out regularly. It also became a staple in my pregnancy exercise plans.

Running

When I found out that I was pregnant, the weather was just starting to get amazing. I felt pretty OK during my first trimester (I was in the minority, as a lot of women feel lousy or nauseous), and figured I’d continue my running hobby as long as I could.

I went for a few runs in my first trimester, around 6 and 7 weeks pregnant. I barely felt pregnant: my only symptom was a sore chest and upper body. I powered through it, though. I kept my eye on the prize: running to my favorite spot on the East River across from the Manhattan skyline.

A lot of women who were running hobbyists in their pre-pregnancy days try to run as much as possible through pregnancy, to continue with building strength and heart health. My friend who is a half-marathoner was running all the way into her third trimester, albeit a bunch more slowly!

Plus, for inspiration, check out this woman who ran a half marathon at 23 weeks pregnant!

Biking

Hooray, biking! It’s one of my all-time favorite types of exercise whether I’m pregnant or not pregnant.

In fact, during my second trimester, I biked around 200 miles in Brooklyn, because it was summer, and I’ve biked around NYC every summer for as long as I can remember. Just because I was pregnant didn’t mean that I could be stopped!

I didn’t really start “showing” until around 24-25 weeks pregnant, like I mention in What I Loved About Being Pregnant. This meant that I didn’t look or feel very big or pregnant for most of my second trimester, which kept me on my bike every night between work and dinner time.

Walking

Everyone will say it: keep moving all throughout pregnancy, even if it is “just walking.” It’s true! Getting steps is the best way to get off the couch and it’s the easiest way to get outdoors, no matter what time of year, and no matter if it’s out on sidewalks or on a treadmill in the gym. I also enjoyed walking on flat paths in parks.

Walk with your partner, or with a family member, or a friend. Everyone will be glad to go for walks with you in order to help you stay active during your pregnancy. For me, it was walking with Dan on the weekends, and walking out to Brooklyn Bridge Park, or around our new neighborhood in New Jersey, once we moved.

Fun fact: I was walking on a treadmill at the gym every night in my third trimester, and first felt my contractions leading up to my labor on the treadmill in our gym!

Hiking

For as long as you can, stay active and enjoy fitness with hiking. While I was huffing and puffing a little with inclines or hills on our local hiking trails in my third trimester, I mostly felt great and I loved seeing fall foliage as autumn set in.

Some of the best parts of hiking was that we got to take more maternity photos in beautiful locations! In my article How to Support Your Partner in Pregnancy, I talk about how Dan helped support me by going on “interesting dates,” which included hiking in new nature reserves and taking beautiful maternity photos with unique backdrops.

Flexibility workouts

All throughout my pregnancy, I did trimester-appropriate yoga and stretching, both in person at yoga studios and online, with videos.

Prenatal yoga classes at a studio

Seriously, one of the best things I did to stay fit during pregnancy was join a prenatal yoga class.

In Brooklyn, I alternated between two studios that were equidistant from our apartment and go to know two different teachers, and their styles of teaching. It was perfect for me to be around other women who were working out during pregnancy — some of them, up until the 40th week, and some of them, with twins!

When we moved to the suburbs, I joined a studio in town and fortunately was once again surrounded by women in a welcoming and positive environment. The teacher was also a certified doula, and graced us with a LOT of pregnancy, labor and delivery knowledge during class.

I missed prenatal yoga classes at my studio so much that when I was looking for things to do on maternity leave, I went back for a “postnatal yoga class,” too.

Prenatal yoga classes online

For the times when I couldn’t make it to my yoga studio (classes were only held once a week), I used great prenatal yoga YouTube channels. I liked the flexibility that I could find classes based on specific weeks of pregnancy, or certain trimesters. I could also do some of a class, and then finish it later, if something came up.

Doing free prenatal yoga online felt productive for me, and also helped me maintain strength and flexibility, from the comfort of my living room on my yoga mat. To see how I set this up, head to my list of products for a starter home gym, where I list my yoga must-haves.

Helpful Tip

Check out my list of cute maternity brands to know about, which make some of my favorite yoga leggings for workouts.

Stretching videos on YouTube

As you can see in my YouTube account “liked” videos above, I did some stretch classes that weren’t quite yoga—they focused instead on stretching all the parts of my pregnant body.

Gentle stretching became something helpful as parts of my body tensed up and gave me soreness, toward the end of my pregnancy and in the third trimester.

Try out this Third Trimester Stretching video from Brittany Bryden.

Strength training workouts

Strength training is what some women prefer. While it was not for me, I wish it could’ve been!

After you get your hands on some small dumbbells or a home dumbbell collection, head to a video like this one, for a Pregnancy-Safe Dumbbell Workout. It’s exciting to see that upper-body strength is safe for pregnant women and it’s a way to keep the focus of the training away from the baby bump.

Online workouts

Once the fall set in and it got cold, and also when I wanted to stay safely indoors or just not go anywhere, I looked for online workouts that I could get down with. Here are a few.

Prenatal strength workout

Yes, I checked out strength training workouts like this one from Nourishmovelove so that I could focus on arm strength! My prenatal yoga teachers reminded us that strengthening our arms would keep our upper bodies strong for lifting our babies once they were born.

Prenatal HIIT

Yes, you can do HIIT (safely) during pregnancy! One of my favorite channels, Pregnancy and Postpartum TV does a video for a Prenatal Tabata HIIT to check out.

Why should you work out during pregnancy?

I’m no doctor, and I didn’t even really experience my doctors telling me I needed to stay fit and get active during pregnancy, but I wanted to.

It was mostly that I didn’t want to give up my former hobbies, which at the time, were mostly biking and yoga. I wanted to feel like myself, without being too much of my pregnant self, for as long as I could hold out (if that makes sense).

Working out during pregnancy made me feel great: whether it was getting my heart rate up (but not too high, as I learned for things you can’t do while pregnant) or stretching my legs, I knew I was doing something good for my body. I also learned from my yoga teachers that the more I stretched out, the better shape I’d be in for giving birth and laboring. This hadn’t even dawned on me!

Of course, it’s important to work out safely during pregnancy and to NEVER over-exert yourself, but for the most part, exercise during the first, second and third trimesters are totally worth it to prove to yourself that you are strong and that good maternal health comes in many different forms.