Walking During Pregnancy: Benefits and Risks

prenatal exercise
When to Start Walking during Pregnancy

Walking during Pregnancy

Walking during pregnancy is highly recommended. In fact, I loved walking while I was pregnant because I got to enjoy the fresh air, the different scenery, the health benefits and I also had fun when walking with a friend.

Being pregnant will lead to changes in your feet and stride length. With some modifications you can keep moving and get the amount of exercise you need each day for health.

As with any exercise program when pregnant, make sure you speak to your doctor prior to starting this or any other pregnancy workout. We are all different and what suits one woman may not suit you and your personal circumstances.

1. Is Walking During Pregnancy OK?

Walking is a great way to exercise when pregnant and can be performed no matter what your fitness level is. But there are some guidelines you must adhere to based on how fit you are. Walking too much and at a pace too fast is not OK.

If you were not exercising before pregnancy, then walking is a great way to start exercising. It is considerably low impact especially in comparison to jogging or running and you can walk throughout each trimester.

2. Can I Walk if I am a Beginner?

To help you get started on identifying just how far you should walk, I want you to decide on what your current level of fitness is. If you never exercised before pregnancy then you will be a beginner. This means walking a shorter distance and at a lower intensity. Start with a walk around the block and progress from there.

During your first trimester, you will be feeling all types of body changes. If you are experiencing morning sickness then this will definitely impact on your daily routines. You should start out slowly by walking 15-20 minutes each day at a slow comfortable pace.

I would recommend that you aim for three days each week. When you are finding walking for 20 minutes quite easy, then you can increase the time you walk by small increments of 5-10 minutes.

By the end of your first trimester you can be walking for at least five days a week.

Do this as long as you can maintain a comfortable walking pace. Be sure to include rest days in between your longer walking sessions.

3. Can I Walk if I am at the Intermediate Fitness Level?

If you are an active person, but only exercises occasionally, then you are most likely at the intermediate level. This means you can head out for a comfortable walk that's most likely less than one hour.

4. What if I am at Advanced Level?

If you consistently exercise more than four times a week then you would be considered advanced. You can go out for a longer walk as long as you know your limit. You are now pregnant so you should avoid pushing yourself as the body changes you are experiencing will have an impact on how much you can exercise.

If you started your pregnancy with a high level of fitness you will undoubtedly want to continue exercising. However, your focus must change from pushing yourself too hard to exercising appropriately for both you and baby.

Again, how you are feeling and the body changes you are experiencing will play a part on how you exercise.

Provided you're feeling good, it's fine to continue increasing the length of your walks and picking up the pace a couple of times a week.

Your balance will start being affected so try to walk on a soft surface while avowing a lot of hills or steep climbs. As you enter your third trimester, you will need to reduce the duration of your walks and even reduce the days you walk each week.

5. How Many Steps Should a Pregnant Woman Walk a Day?

We often see the goal of achieving '10,000 steps' a day. But does this still apply to you now you are pregnant? The short answer is how much walking you do should not necessarily be based on how many steps you do. Instead, I suggest you walk a distance that you can achieve at a constant rate without over-exerting yourself.

If you can only complete 5,000 steps then that is what is best for you right now. As your fitness level increases, you may notice you can increase the steps.

6. Is it Safe to Walk on a Treadmill While Pregnant?

Yes! If you this is what you enjoy and you have readily-available access to a treadmill then this is a good way to stay fit. In saying that, I much prefer walking outside when the conditions are suitable. That is, avoid walking in the hot weather or really cold months.

The main concern with walking on a treadmill when pregnant is making sure you do not lose your balance and fall off. Always try to use a treadmill with side rails.

6. What Prenatal Exercise Precautions Should I Know?

No matter what form of exercise you are doing, there are some precautions you must adhere to such as avoiding hot weather and making sure that you are properly hydrated. You do not want to push yourself too hard or try to achieve personal bests when pregnant.

At all times, you should be able to converse without struggling to breathe. This is why walking with a friend is a great idea as you can gauge your intensity by your ability to talk. Aim to walk on a soft surface such a sporting field or through a park.

You can incorporate walking into your weekly exercise routines by walking on days when you are not doing your PregActive workouts. Or, you can swap days depending on how you are feeling.

YOU Must Stop Walking if:

1. An abnormally rapid heartbeat

2. Bleeding

3. Extreme fatigue

4. You experience any form pain

5. Dizziness

6. Faintness or light-headedness

7. Lack of normal fetal movement

8. Sudden swelling

Keep Your Doctor Informed

Stop immediately and contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of the above symptoms especially dizziness, pain, or bleeding.


7. Can I Walk in My 2nd Trimester of Pregnancy?

As you enter your second trimester, your goal is to be walking five days each week for 20-30 minutes. This will obviously be dependent on what other exercise workouts you are doing. If you are doing my weekly workouts then you will need to reduce your walking time.

8. Can I Walk in My 3rd Trimester of Pregnancy?

As you enter your third trimester; your focus moves towards preparing for childbirth and the postnatal period.

As your belly continues to grow it will impact on your movement and as a result you will likely need to slow down and re-evaluate how far you are walking based on how you are feeling.

If walking for 30 minutes is getting too much, then try and break up your walking into two sessions per day of 15 minutes. You can walk in the morning and then again in the evening.

I want you to focus more on my Pregactive BREATHE and Birth Prep classes as you prepare for childbirth.

9. What are The Benefits of Walking for Moms?

You will already be walking a lot throughout your day. Walking to work, at the shops, at the park or around your home. Walking keeps your heart strong and your muscles toned.

The main benefits associated with walking is that is does not requirement equipment, you can walk at varying intensities, a distance that suits your existing fitness level and it is a great way to workout with friends.

How else will walking benefit you?

1. It may help you have an easier labor.

2. It helps prevent excess weight gain.

3. Staying fit can help prevent or better manage gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

4. Staying fit when pregnant will help you enjoy a speedier recovery after childbirth.

5. It eases constipation

10. What are the Dos and Don'ts for Pregnant Walkers?

1. Avoid measuring your performance against your pre-pregnancy fitness level. During pregnancy, you should be more focused on maintaining a good fitness level instead of trying to set personal bests.

2. Your growing belly affects your center of gravity which results in you experiencing an altered sense of balance.

3. Avoid very hot and cold weather conditions. You are more prone to overheating during exercise when you're pregnant which is not good.

4. Mama - listen to your body! Now is not the time to test your fitness limits. If your body is telling you to stop then stop. If you are getting very tired, thirsty or lightheaded then stop!

5. Wear appropriate footwear and clothing.

11. Can Walking Cause Spotting?

It is very important you listen to your body when pregnant as spotting can be a sign of over-exertion. Stop walking if you are not feeling well. It's best to avoid exercising to the point of exhaustion.

12. How Fast and How Hard Should Your Walk?

Moderation becomes an important word during pregnancy, so please avoid extreme levels of exercise. The chemical by-products and raised body temperature of over-exertion are bad for your growing baby.

13. How Will I Know if I am Walking Too Fast and Hard?

I recommend that you use the "talk test" to determine your exertion level. This talk test states that you should be able to talk normally in a conversation without having to gasp for breath. If you cannot carry on a conversation easily then slow down or stop for a rest.

Drink Water and Stay Hydrated

Drink water before, during, and after your walk to help regulate your core body temperature.

14. Is Posture Is Important?

A good walking posture is essential and can help prevent back pain. Here are a few simple tips to help you maintain good posture.

1. Look forward.

2. Stand up straight.

3. Do not lean forward or lean back.

4. Keep your chin up.

5. Loosen the shoulders.

6. Tuck in your behind.

7. Avoid slouching.

15. Can Walking Prevent Constipation?

Constipation may be caused by a number of factors. When it comes to walking, it will definitely help. You see, walking provides the motion that helps your body move food through your system.

16. Will Walking Cause Foot Problems?

As I have already talked about; your body's center of mass shifts during pregnancy. You do not want to experience swelling in your feet or ankles during pregnancy. Hormones during pregnancy relax the ligaments, which can contribute to foot strain.

Before you start walking, make sure you invest in a good pair of supportive walking shoes. And see a podiatric physician if problems develop.

17. Can Walking Induce Labor?

Due to gravity and swaying of your hips, walking during pregnancy may help draw the baby down into your pelvis. The pressure of the baby on your pelvis may then prime your cervix for labor. Or it can help labor progress if you've already felt some contractions.

But don't worry about walking causing this during your pregnancy. The key point is that walking may help induce labor when your ready to give birth.

18. Pelvic Pain after Walking During Pregnancy

Your baby's head is now pressing hard against your bladder, rectum, hips and pelvic bones. The result is an ever-increasing stress on your muscles, joints, and organs in your pelvis and back.

If you have pelvic pain after walking during pregnancy then this can be attributed to pregnancy hormones which can cause the pelvic joints to become unstable leading to a variety of mobility issues ranging from minor discomfort to significant pain and sometimes the inability to walk.