The 5 types of exercise to avoid when pregnant

1. Hot yoga
Fiona warns that if mum gets too hot, you could potentially ‘cook’ your baby. She says “there is a chance that your core temperature will rise too high and this can lead to problems such as neural tube defects in your developing baby. You are still fine to do a regular yoga class, though we recommend finding a prenatal yoga class with an instructor qualified in prenatal yoga.”

2. Exercises promoting core strengthening
Fiona notes that “a pregnant woman can continue to do Pilates while she is pregnant, though some exercises will need to be modified as her pregnancy progresses and based on her own comfort level. It is important to let your instructor know where you are at in your pregnancy – some exercises are not recommended, particularly strenuous stomach exercises.”

3. HIIT – High intensity exercises
The instructor says that while you may continue to do cardio, it should be done with moderation. “You can still participate in these exercises, but you need to keep the intensity to a moderate level.

This is also dependent on how fit you were prior to falling pregnant – if you were very fit and used to work out at a high intensity you may still be OK to work out at a reasonable high intensity as your body is used to it. As a general rule if you cannot speak a full sentence during the exercise the intensity is too high. The issue with this being that the core body temperature may rise too much, which can be detrimental to the developing baby.”

4. Push-ups
Fiona urges caution while performing abdominal exercises. “If mum has been exercising regularly prior to pregnancy and has previously been performing full push-ups, she is perfectly fine to continue to do so in her first trimester. As her pregnancy continues, and the developing baby starts to put pressure on the abdominal wall, mum will need to keep an eye out for signs of abdominal separation, known as diastasis recti. If she suspects that she has this condition then she will need to modify her push-ups to her knees. Full push-ups put too much pressure on an already weakened abdominal wall and so we generally don’t recommend full push-ups to anyone in their third trimester of pregnancy, mums carrying multiple babies, or if there is a history of diastasis recti in previous pregnancies. Box push-ups are recommended if diastasis is present.

5. Sit-ups
She also adds sit-ups on the caution list, along with abdominal workouts. “Sit-ups are OK for the first trimester of pregnancy, but after the 16-week mark, the growing baby will be lengthening and stretching your abdominal muscles and performing sit-ups will just add to the stress and may lead to abdominal separation. It doesn’t mean you need to neglect your core muscles – focus on your deeper abdominal muscles, your TVA or transverse abdominis, which will help support your baby and your spine as your pregnancy progresses. You should also focus on keeping the pelvic floor muscles strong.” 

Read Celebrity mums who stayed fit during pregnancy – and how they did it

Safe ways to exercise

The Urban Energy instructor recommends the following exercises to strengthen while pregnant. “For most women, squats and lunges are perfectly fine to perform throughout pregnancy – some women do find they get a little uncomfortable towards the end of their pregnancy due to the hormone relaxing, which allows tendons and ligaments to become a little more lax. Some women notice this particularly around their pelvic area, so we would recommend exercises that still work those muscles but in a way that mum feels more stable and supported – i.e. holding on to a chair, with a wider stance or against a wall.”

Safe classes

Urban Energy Fitness
Urban Energy offers classes daily in various locations including Palm Jumeirah Park, Kids HQ and more. The fitness centre offers classes up to your third trimester; they are circuit-based focusing on low-impact cardio, light weights and core stability. Dh85 per class. For more information visit

Symmetry Gym Dubai
Symmetry offers specifically tailored fitness programmes for you. You will be working one-to-one with a specialised trainer and nutritionist towards building physical strength and maintaining fitness while pregnant. Located near the Gold and Diamond Park. For more information visit

Real Pilates
At this fitness centre, you can join prenatal Pilates classes, which are good for your posture, building upper and lower body strength and improving stability. Real Pilates offer two types of classes, the Prenatal Mat and the Prenatal Reformer. For more information visit 

Read What to eat when you’re about to have a baby

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