Exercising during pregnancy is hugely beneficial but during such a special time there are certainly exercises that are more important than others and some that you need to be mindful of or ditch altogether.

Here are the ones to do and the ones to avoid, according to our amazing 28 by Sam Wood Pregnancy program physio, Chloe Lorback.

Best exercises for early pregnancy

  • Pelvic floor exercises
    Your pelvic floor is part of your core muscle group and should not be neglected pre, during or post-pregnancy. Strengthening your pelvic floor in the early stages of pregnancy and continuing to do so throughout, will help once your baby has been born.

  • Plank on elbows (or toe taps) to build abdominal strength
    A strong core helps to take the pressure off your back and will help when you're carrying your baby and the million other things you need to take with you (nappies, bottle, your own handbag etc.)

Read more: Snezana Markoski's workout with baby Willow

Exercising during pregnancy is hugely beneficial.

  • Modified pushups
    They might look small but babies can be heavy! Building up the strength in your arms will make it easier to carry your baby.

  • Walking and/or Cycling
    Walking and cycling are great low-impact options that get you moving without putting extra pressure on your joints. It keeps you fit and tones your muscles which are just some of the amazing benefits of walking during pregnancy.

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Best exercises for mid pregnancy

  • Squats
    Squats strengthen the largest muscle group in your body, your quads, and also strengthen your glutes and hammies. Strong legs and glutes help to take the pressure off your back which is important as it's likely you'll be doing lots of lifting once your baby arrives.

  • Side plank
    Side planks are great for strengthening your abdominals and core. You can also do supported side planks on your knees if it is too much to do a full side plank.

Boxing movements will get your heart rate up.

  • Boxing arms
    With or without resistance, boxing movements will get your heart rate up but also work those arms that will be put to good use when your bub has arrived.

  • Walking
    I touched on the physical benefits of walking above but never underestimate the benefits getting outside and moving can have on your mental health. Fresh air, a catch up with a friend and keeping your body moving can help reduce stress, release endorphins and keep your muscles strong.

Stretching can help with balance and stability in your pregnancy.

Best exercises for late pregnancy

  • Calf raises
    Calf exercises are often overlooked but they play an important role in the prevention of ankle and foot swelling, which many pregnant women experience, especially as the weather warms up. Calf raises can also help with balance, stability in your ankles and calf muscle strength.

Clams
The clam exercise strengthens your hips, glutes and pelvis and helps to stabilise the sacroiliac joint (joint between your lower spine and pelvis).

Most exercises can be safely modified during pregnancy.

  • Wall push ups
    Wall push ups strengthen your arms, chest and shoulders and are a great option as your belly grows and makes it uncomfortable to do traditional push ups.

  • Swimming/water walking
    Hydrostatic pressure created by being in the water is great for managing any swelling, and it feels amazing to feel weightless while you're floating. The support from the water allows your lower back and pelvic joints to take a break from the usual pregnancy load while moving through the water creates a challenge for your core muscles.

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The worst exercises for pregnancy

Most exercises can be safely modified during pregnancy, but there are still a few that Chloe recommends you steer clear of, usually because they result in too much pressure on your pelvic floor or tummy muscles.

Of course everyone is different, so if you have terrific motor control and strength in your pelvis and lumbar spine, you might be fine.
But generally it's best to avoid these exercises and substitute for safer options.

  • Crunches / Sit ups – too much pressure on your rectus abdominis.
  • Jump squats – too much pressure on your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Long plank holds – difficult to maintain without straining your rectus abdominis.
  • Lifting heavy weights – puts a lot of strain through your pelvic floor muscles, so any weakness will be revealed. On the other hand, lifting moderate weight is recommended, and great for building muscle mass and bone density.
  • Star jumps – no further explanation required! It feels like you're shaking your baby out, and your pelvic floor muscles are under a lot of pressure when you jump.

Written by Sam Wood with the assistance of 28's pregnancy expert, Chloe Lorback.