How to Safely Train Outside During Your Pregnancy

By Sadie Flynn – April 4, 2023

Listen up, pregnant people: if your doctor tells you to keep your heart rate below 80 beats per minute and to not lift over 20 pounds, you need a new doctor. 

Over the last decade or so, mountains of research have emerged about the many measurable benefits of engaging in physical activity before, during and after pregnancy. This data disproves the outmoded advice to avoid intensity and strength training time and time again, and yet, I see countless women who come into the gym 6 to 8 weeks postpartum who haven’t worked out since their 8-week ultrasound per the advice of their OB-GYN.

This reality is a shame because, when you dig into the research, you’ll read how exercise is actually essential for a healthy lifestyle, especially for those who are pregnant. Physical activity can also help prevent postpartum depression and provide more benefits than risks for pregnant women (though there may be necessary modifications to workout routines). 

In summary, you should be exercising during your pregnancy! So, let’s discuss how you should go about it because as with anything, there are do’s and there are don’ts and for the sake of remaining thematic, let’s talk about how you can get outside during your pregnancy! 

Just Keep Swimming

By far, swimming during your pregnancy is one of the best ways to stay safe and active. Plus, it feels indescribably good. Keeping pregnant hips open and limber is a main pillar of any prenatal fitness program, and swimming is an excellent way to do just that. It’s metabolic conditioning (which has been shown to have long-lasting benefits for babies, too), low-impact and resistance training — a triple whammy. 

Pregnant woman swimming.

Grab a season pass to Barton Springs or Deep Eddy, or pop in any of the free neighborhood pools and make water aerobics great again.

Ready, Set, Hike!

Would you believe me if I told you there’s a free, all-natural, organic, super contributor to inducing labor naturally, delivering a baby productively and making your postpartum recovery faster — and everyone on the planet has access to it but only a fraction of pregnant mamas actually put this power to good use? It’s gravity.

Want to get your baby in a more optimal position for birth? Go for a hike. Many physicists would agree that gravity can both help and hinder your prenatal and postpartum journey, depending on whether you decide to use it to your advantage or not. And what’s one of the best ways to use gravity advantageously during your pregnancy? Hike. 

Unlike your standard daily neighborhood walks (which are also great), hiking forces your hips to shift, lift and adjust with every step, effectively allowing the baby to jostle down toward your “Main Street,” getting into a more optimal position for labor and delivery. 

One thing to note: while pregnant, the body releases a hormone called relaxin (yes, it’s real) to loosen, relax and lubricate our muscles and joints in preparation for birth. So as you hit the trails, be mindful of your steps and focus on keeping your footing stable. 

Readers, I would be remiss not to emphasize that, when it comes to training, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. It’s no surprise that pregnant people experience many physiological changes during pregnancy, from joint instability to core dysfunction to pesky (albeit, mostly temporary) nerve problems. So, hear me when I say that you’ll reap the most reward from training — even if it’s just swimming and hiking — with an informed prenatal/postpartum fitness coach. Though exercise during pregnancy is encouraged, I feel strongly that prenatal fitness should be coach-led, individualized and supported by a trained professional. 

But, I digress… for now.

About the Author

Sadie Flynn is a CrossFit level 2 certified trainer, pregnancy and postpartum fitness coach, and former collegiate athlete with a penchant for power lifts. As a mother, Flynn is deeply passionate about pregnant and postpartum fitness and wellness; she works hard to help educate and empower women to take intentional care of their bodies before, during and after birth. When she’s not coaching at CrossFit Renew, or forcing her ‘90s alternative music beliefs upon you, you can probably find her playing a basic board or card game over some beers with anyone who’s willing or, like most millennials in this town, eating her way through Austin with her husband and their two kiddos.


Related Articles