Feet up, weights down:
exercises to avoid during pregnancy

pregnant mum on her way to an exercise class

Getting fit for pregnancy is a great idea. It can make carrying that extra weight easier, provide some relief in labour and help you snap back into shape after birth too. If you already have a good fitness level and take part in sports like running you can keep going while pregnant: simply slow down a bit. That said, with baby on board there are some exercises during pregnancy that are best avoided.


ball games

Now's not the time to bend it like Beckham! You're best off not taking part in any games that come with the possibility of being hit in the tummy by a ball or tackled by an over-enthusiastic opponent. This includes squash, as well as team games like football and rugby.


high altitude

There's more chance of altitude sickness, both for you and your baby. Unless you're completely acclimatised (hello mountain dwellers), do your exercises below 2500m above sea level. You can still go hill walking in the UK, though. Ben Nevis is only 1345m above sea level.


leg lifts

Lying flat on your back isn't a great idea after 16 weeks. We're thinking of you rather than baby, here. The weight of your bump presses against the main blood vessel that brings blood to your heart, so you might feel a bit faint. By all means continue going to your pilates class, but ask your teacher for an alternative move while everyone else does the more trickier moves like The Hundred.


horse riding

Even if you are an accomplished rider, it’s best to avoid horse-riding as the chance of taking a tumble off your horse just isn’t worth the risk. Pregnancy and exercise is all about maintenance: you want to stay at the same fitness level as you were before, rather than pushing yourself to become faster and stronger. It's best to stick to gentle, low-impact exercises like swimming and yoga.


combat sports

If you're a pro in karate, you'll need to hang up your black belt for a little while. Steer clear of sports like kickboxing and judo, as there's a high chance of getting hit in the belly in the heat of competition.



There haven't been many studies into diving while pregnant, but it's generally agreed by everyone (the NHS and PADI included) that you should give it a miss. Your baby has no protection against decompression sickness, and it's likely that changes taking place in your body mean you might be affected too.