Coronavirus: how to stay fit and healthy

It’s a daunting time to be pregnant, with COVID-19 making everyone more anxious. As exercise can help mentally, here’s what’s practical and safe to do…

It’s important to exercise when you’re pregnant. There are a huge amount of health benefits. But coronavirus has made it trickier, putting certain places out of bounds for pregnant women during March, April, May and June.

There are many reasons why exercise is a great idea in pregnancy. It can:

  • Help you sleep better (though we can’t promise to see of those hourly toilet trips).
  • Reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia and your baby being born with a very low birth weight.
  • Be a big win in labour, making you fitter, shortening the time it takes and increasing your chances of a straightforward labour and quick recovery.
  • Help to reduce high blood pressure.
  • Help to reduce the risk of diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes, it can help control it too.
  • Keep your weight healthy during and after your pregnancy.
  • Help to reduce your chance of getting varicose veins, swelling in ankles, feet and hands and back pain.
  • Ease depression and anxiety and help your mood, which is particularly pertinent at the moment.

Do remember that when you exercise in pregnancy you should be able to hold a conversation with someone at the same time. If you can’t, you might be doing too much. Oh, and if your most strenuous activity pre-pregnancy was lifting the remote control, go in gently with exercise in pregnancy too.

Here’s how to do it safely and responsibly, even if you’re self-isolating or social distancing.

See what's happening online (and what's opening again)

Many small businesses like yoga and pilates studios moved their classes online over the last few months. Great for many pregnant women, as yoga or pilates are brilliant ways to keep fit in a safe way when you’re pregnant, prepare you for labour and help with anxiety and stress. Which let’s face it, is pretty helpful right now.

The rules around social distancing are changing so if there is a fitness class or activity you enjoyed before, it might be worth finding out what's happening now. For example, on 11 July, team sports were allowed to start again with outdoor swimming pools and water parks also re-opening. From 25 July, sports facilities and venues, including indoor gyms, fitness and dance studios and indoor swimming pools will open, subject to evidence closer to the time. It is important to keep in mind continued guidance on social distancing though.

Head out on a walk in the fresh air

Walking is one of the best options, now more than ever. It’s a good way to get outside when you’re self-isolating and means you can stay a good distance from people when you’re in open space. Add to that that it’s free at a time when a lot of us are anxious about money and a good walk is win, win. Get those trainers on.

Get planting

Gardening is a great form of exercise and one you can do at a safe distance from other people while still getting some fresh air. Perfect for when you’re self-isolating and good for the soul.

Set yourself up a home workout space

There are some great stomach strengthening and pelvic exercises you can do when you’re pregnant so find a small space in your home and get going. Check out our guide to them here.

Use the birthing ball

Let’s face it, the birthing ball is far too unruly to take out of the home anyway so exercising on it is a job made for the self-isolating. A good session on the ball will help you prepare for giving birth. Try:

  • Rocking your pelvis from side to side and front to back.
  • Rotate your hips in both directions.
  • Lean over it in a kneel and rock your hips back and forth.

Keep up the pelvic floors

Lots more time on your hands at home = no excuse not to do your pelvic floors. Here’s our guide on how to do them right.

Housework

You’re pregnant during the coronavirus outbreak and that means you’re probably at home a lot. So use the time. Get on with that big sort out of your wardrobe. File all those bills that you have nightmares about. Take a deep breath and face down the horror drawer in the kitchen. Housework and tidying is great exercise and will make you feel super-organised too.

If ever there was a time we need to stay active and healthy, it’s when we’re growing little humans. In fact, sling the coronavirus in with a whole load of hormones and it now feels just as important for our anxious minds too.

Last reviewed: 13 July 2020

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

Interactive, engaging and social, our live online antenatal course is a great way for you to meet other local parents, and get essential unbiased information and knowledge about pregnancy, birth and early days with your baby.

Click on the following links for guidance on self-isolation and social distancing in Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, French, Gujarati, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Urdu and Welsh.

For more information about coronavirus in various languages see here.

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