Pregnancy My Pregnant Body Pregnancy Fitness Pregnancy Walking Workouts for Every Trimester Learn when to start walking during pregnancy to stay active, and how to use walking workouts through all three trimesters. By Teri Hanson Updated on May 27, 2023 Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article When to Start Walking During Pregnancy First Trimester Walking Workout Second Trimester Walking Workout Third Trimester Walking Workout Safety Tips for Walking Strength Training Moves to Add Photo: VGstockstudio/Shutterstock Walking is a workout that can suit pregnant people of all different fitness levels, and it has many benefits, especially during pregnancy. Walking can be as gentle or as challenging as you need it to be, it can be done nearly anywhere by anyone, and you don't need to buy any special equipment or membership to get started. Plus, a 2021 study found that walking in late pregnancy is associated with lower rates of induction and C-sections, higher rates of spontaneous labor, and better Bishop scores. "I recommend walking to most of my patients who are pregnant," says Tanya Ghatan, M.D., an OB-GYN at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "It's easy entry for anyone who has never exercised and gives athletic [people] a way to stay active without the high impact of other activities they've participated in." Pregnancy is one time when exercise is not about setting records. Instead, your goal should be to optimize your and your baby's health. Pay attention to how you feel, and monitor the intensity and duration of your workouts. Here's how to use walking workouts to stay active during pregnancy. 4 Pregnancy Back Pain Symptoms That Warrant a Call to the Doctor When to Start Walking During Pregnancy Walking is a great workout for any point in pregnancy, and it's considered a safe exercise for most pregnant people (just check in with a health care provider if you're unsure). These recommended walking programs are designed to be started in the first trimester, but you can jump in at the appropriate level no matter where you are in your pregnancy. If you were inactive before your pregnancy, start at the first-trimester program for beginners. To help you know which type of walking workout to start with, here's how each level is defined: Beginner: You've never exercised or you exercise very rarely.Intermediate: You're active, but exercise may be sporadic.Advanced: You're fit and exercise four or more times per week. Regardless of your fitness level, keep in mind that it's not only fine but smart to swap days, shorten your walks, or even skip them occasionally according to how you feel. It's also perfectly okay to break up a day's total walking time into two or more shorter sessions. Is It Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy? First Trimester Walking Workout (Up to 13 Weeks) The first trimester lasts until week 13 of pregnancy, but you can complete a first-trimester workout at any time during your pregnancy. Approach this program gradually and focus primarily on sticking with it. Increases in intensity and duration will come over time. Here are beginner, intermediate, and advanced first-trimester workouts to choose from. Beginner Start by walking 10 to 15 minutes a day, three days a week, taking at least one day off between walks.When you feel ready, add another day of walking and increase each walk by 5 minutes.After a few weeks, add a fifth day of walking. Your goal: Toward the end of the trimester, try walking 10 to 20 minutes a day, five days a week. Intermediate The more active you were before you became pregnant, the sooner you can ramp up to 6 days of walking per week, which is a good activity goal. Start by walking 20 minutes a day, four days a week.When you feel ready, add a fifth day, then a sixth. You can also increase the length of each walk by a few minutes. Your goal: Toward the end of the trimester, try walking 20 to 40 minutes a day, six days a week. Is It Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy? Advanced Even if you're a regular exerciser, changing to a low-impact walking program might be just what you need to continue staying active and feeling good. Start by walking 20 to 30 minutes a day, five days a week.When you feel ready, add a sixth day and increase the length of each walk by a few minutes each day.If you feel up to it, also add hills, stairs, and/or bursts of increased speed (intervals), but don't push to the point where you are totally breathless. Your goal: Toward the end of the trimester, try walking 30 to 60 minutes a day, six days a week. Second Trimester Walking Workout (13-25 Weeks) During what's sometimes referred to as the "honeymoon" trimester, energy starts to increase and morning sickness starts to fade for many people, making the second trimester the perfect time to exercise. Beginner If you are beginning this program in your second trimester, start by walking 10 minutes a day, four to five days a week.When you're ready, pick two days that will become your longer-walk days (15 to 30 minutes) and add another day of walking. Your goal: Toward the end of the trimester, try walking 15 to 30 minutes a day, four to six days a week. Intermediate You're ready to gradually lengthen your walks and pick up the pace at certain points. Just be sure not to push if you're feeling tired or get overheated. If you are beginning in your second trimester, start by walking 20 minutes a day, four to six days a week. Gradually add minutes every other day so that your total on those days is at least 30 to 40 minutes. Once or twice a week, if you're feeling up to it, increase your rate to the point that it's difficult to hold a conversation for 10 to 15 minutes during the middle of the workout. Your goal: Toward the end of the trimester, try walking 25 to 40 minutes a day, five to six days a week, increasing your speed during one or two walks. Advanced 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. Try pumping your arms vigorously while walking to boost your heart rate and strengthen your muscles. If you are beginning in your second trimester, start by walking 30 to 40 minutes a day, six days a week.Choose at least one day when you aim for 50 minutes, incorporating hills, stairs, and/or intervals, but don't push it too far. Lengthen your shorter walks until your total is at least 40 to 50 minutes on each of the remaining five days. Your goal: Toward the end of the trimester, try walking 40 to 50 minutes a day five or six days a week and 60 minutes at least one day a week. The Best Pregnancy Exercise Classes Third Trimester Walking Workout (26–40 Weeks) Try to stick with the five- to six-days-a-week goal, but don't be afraid to adjust or slow down as needed, especially as you near your due date. Beginner If you are beginning this program in your third trimester, start by walking 10 minutes a day, four to six days a week. If your energy slumps, decrease the length of your walks or break them down into shorter sessions. Aim to maintain the same total minutes of walking per week as at the end of the second trimester, but know that your pace—and thus the distance you cover—will naturally decrease. Your goal: Toward the end of the trimester, try walking 15 to 30 minutes a day, five to six days a week. Intermediate Speed and distance take a back seat to consistency by the third trimester. The goal is to keep walking for the same number of minutes whenever you feel you can. If you are beginning this program in your third trimester, start by walking 10 to 20 minutes a day, four to six days a week. Be ready to reduce the speed and distance of your walks as your pregnancy progresses. You may also want to drop a day. Break up your longer walks into shorter sessions if that's more comfortable for you. Your goal: Toward the end of the trimester, try walking 20 to 45 minutes a day, five to six days a week. Advanced This trimester is all about staying comfortable, so keep the focus on simply remaining active. If you are starting in your third trimester, begin by walking 20 to 50 minutes a day, four to six days a week.Forget about speed and distance, and don't push it to the point that you are unable to hold a conversation. Divide your walks into shorter sessions if that's more comfortable for you. Your goal: Toward the end of the trimester, try walking 25 to 50 minutes a day, five to six days a week. Safety Tips for Walking During Pregnancy Before you dig into these walking workouts, a quick reminder: Be sure to get a health care provider's approval before starting this (or any other) exercise program during pregnancy. It's also important to warm up and cool down before and after your walk with some light stretching. Add in some hip circles and stretches for those achy pregnancy joints too. Here are some additional tips for walking during pregnancy. Talk it out How intense should your walking workout be during pregnancy? During the hardest part of your workout, you should be able to converse without gasping for breath, though not with complete ease, either. Use the conversation scale Another easy way to keep track of intensity is to gauge how intense your workout is by how easy or difficult it is to hold a conversation. Level one is being able to hold a converastion easily while walking; Level two would be it's slightly challenging to hold a conversation at your walking pace; Level three would be that it's impossible to hold a conversation at that pace. Rest up Listen to your body and don't overdo it. When you're pregnant, your body is doing a lot of work and some days you will be more tired than others and that's OK. Drink up It's important to stay hydrated all through pregnancy, but especially when you're active. Add 8 ounces of water to your total daily fluid intake for every 30 minutes of exercise. And if you're walking outside, stay cool by dressing in breathable layers that you can shed. In warm weather, exercise early or late in the day, and ratchet down the intensity. Wear compression gear Compression socks and leggings can help keep your circulation going through your legs and reduce excess swelling that can happen during pregnancy. The Best Maternity Leggings We Tested for Workouts, Lounging, and More Watch for back pain If you experience any back pain during your walking routine, it may be helpful to consider adding a supportive pregnancy garment to support your back and core. Also be on the lookout for any regular cramping or back pains that could signal contractions, especially if you are earlier than 36 weeks pregnant. The Best Maternity Support Belts and Bands for Growing Bellies Be on the lookout for danger signs Stop walking if you experience any of the following symptoms: Look For Severe pain or crampingAny fluid leakingBleedingDizziness or feeling light-headedSeeing stars in your eyesAn abnormally fast heartbeatNot feeling your baby move like normal 6 Signs of Preterm Labor and What Your Doctor Might Do Next Strength Training Moves to Add to Walks During Pregnancy Looking for a little more than just a walk during pregnancy? Adding in some core and upper-body exercises can help counter the extra front load you have to carry during pregnancy. The following are four great moves that require no equipment and easily can be easily incorporated into your walking program whether you're walking outside, on the treadmill, or at the track. You can even modify some of the exercises as your pregnancy progresses. For each exercise, do 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets on the days that you run or walk. Push-ups Pushups help strengthen your chest, front shoulders, and triceps. You can do a traditional push-up, with your hands on the ground, during the first trimester. Then, as your stomach grows or if you just need the extra support, try doing push-ups while kneeling with your hands on a bench. Here's how to do a push-up: Place your feet hip-width apart, hands slightly wider than shoulders, and arms straight.Press your hips forward so your body forms a straight line.Bend elbows and lean chest toward the support until elbows are about in line with shoulders.Push back to starting position and repeat. Tricep dips This exercise will help strengthen your triceps and help prepare you for all that baby-holding! For an extra challenge, keep your legs straight and feet flexed so you're supported on your heels. If you need more support, just bend your knees so they face up toward the ceiling. Here's how to perform a tricep dip: Stand with your back to a ledge offering horizontal support with knees bent and feet flat on the ground.Place your hands on the edge of the support close to your buttocks with fingertips pointing forward and arms straight.Lift your buttocks using your arms, squeezing your shoulder blades down and together.Without changing position, bend your elbows, lowering your torso until your elbows are about in line with your shoulders.Straighten your arms without locking and repeat. Cat backs In addition to giving you a very relaxing stretch, this move strengthens your abdominals and back. Here's how to do it: Kneel on the ground with your wrists just in front of your shoulders and knees in line with your hips.Keeping arms straight, inhale, lifting up head and tailbone.Using your abdominals, exhale, letting your head relax and rounding your spine like a cat.Continue for reps in a rhythmic pattern. Back presses Back presses can strengthen your core and can be performed sitting or lying down. Perform a back press by following these steps: Lean your entire back and buttocks against a vertical support with your feet slightly forward, knees slightly bent, and arms crossed in front of your chest or hanging by your sides.Use your abs to pull your navel toward your spine and tilt the bottom of your pelvis upward.Hold for 20 seconds, then release and repeat.Continue to breathe, still using your abs, for the entire 20 seconds. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Parents uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. The Effect of Walking During Late Pregnancy on the Outcomes of Labor and Delivery: A Randomized Clinical Trial. J Educ Health Promot. 2021.