Pippa Middleton Pregnancy & Fitness

Exercising during


Our fitness columnist Pippa Middleton exclusively reveals the joys of the
first trimester and the adjustments
she's made to her exercise regime 

Sport and exercise has always formed part of my daily life, from gym sessions to weekend runs, ambles or training for an event. Fitness gives me energy and helps clear my mind. I love the endorphins and the buzz factor that exercise gives. When I learned the happy news that I was pregnant I realised I needed to adjust my normal 4 to 5-day-a-week routine and find a way of continuing my exercise safely throughout the three trimesters. So, the journey of pregnancy fitness began. Where to start?

I have looked at loads of books and websites on exercise during pregnancy but have been disappointed by the limited technical information on what you can and can’t do. I found that particularly so during the riskier first trimester. And this being my first pregnancy, I had so many questions I felt were still unanswered. I wanted to know things like, are all strokes of swimming safe; can I still do a normal yoga class if I avoided certain positions; could I still work my abs?


So I decided to use my own initiative and adapted my current exercise routine, adjusting the weight and intensity to what felt right for me.

I worked out for 45 minutes, 3-4 times a week, depending on my energy levels but ensured that the routines I did were lighter than usual. The days I wasn’t going to the gym to do a class (Barrecore, strength and conditioning, Pilates or yoga) I’d try to cycle or walk with weights to work the arms and make it more challenging. I found the fresh air better than ever for clearing the head and keeping the body active, so too with swimming and tennis – I’ve never enjoyed these more. I stopped running, not because I read it was unsafe, just because I rather liked the idea of giving my body (and growing baby) a rest from pavement pounding.

I was lucky to pass the 12-week scan without suffering from morning sickness. That meant I was able to carry on as normal and continue most of my sports with better knowledge. So far, I’ve focused on glutes, back and pelvic floor plus inner thighs and avoided any strenuous ab pull-ups – instead being conscious of holding my tummy in to support my back.

Who knows what the next few weeks have in store, but I look forward to sharing my pregnancy workout experiences with you every month.


Exercises to try Here are some exercises you can incorporate into your day –
always work with your current fitness level and stop if it feels too much


(legs, glutes, core)

1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at the shoulders.
2. Step forward with your left foot, bending your left knee as you lower to the ground without your knee going over your toes. 

3. Also bend your back knee as you lower to the ground, then pause before pushing yourself back to your starting point.
Do 12–15 reps.

Squat with light weights

Squat with light weights
(legs, glutes, core) 

1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart holding a dumbbell in both hands in front of your chest.
2. Keeping your weight in your heels, sit down as if sitting in a chair, keeping your back as upright as possible. 

3. Pause, then return to standing by pushing through your heels. Do 12–15 reps.

Reverse flyes

Reverse flyes

1. Hold a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. 

2. Bend forward at the hips and let your arms hang straight down. 

3. Raise both arms out to the sides as you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Return to start and do 12-15 reps.

Expert advice

‘There’s a lack of quality advice about how much to exercise during pregnancy’ –  Professor Greg Whyte OBE, Sports Relief trainer and author of Bump It Up, offers a guide to exercise and pregnancy

Pippa has highlighted a common experience of many mums-to-be – the lack of quality advice about how much you can exercise during pregnancy. When my wife became pregnant with our first child, I was compelled to write a book on the subject. While the internet provides a wealth of information, it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. One of my so-called golden rules of exercise and pregnancy is to aim for maintenance of fitness and not improvement. Pippa’s excellent physical activity and exercise programme prior to pregnancy is one of the reasons she’s been able to sustain a high level of activity during the first trimester (12 weeks).

Whilst the visible changes to the mother’s body are limited in the early weeks, internally there are a host of changes taking place that may impact activity levels, for example, hormone changes. For Pippa, the absence of morning sickness has enabled her to continue to exercise. She’s also right to highlight how exercise and physical activity during pregnancy results in improved physical, mental and emotional health. And exercising outdoors, as Pippa does, is a great mood booster. Plus there’s the social aspect – taking part in antenatal classes offers a great opportunity to share experience and information with other mums-to-be.

Pippa also highlights some of the other golden rules of exercise during pregnancy. Reducing the intensity and to a moderate level is very important. It’s also advisable not to overheat and to make sure you keep well hydrated. This can be achieved by reducing both the intensity and duration of exercise and drinking plenty of water.

Pippa has chosen not to run and focus instead on walking and other sports. As she’s already a regular runner, there’s nothing to say she couldn’t continue. But it’s a personal choice and down to how you feel.

She’s also right not to try any new exercise or sport during her pregnancy. I’m often asked whether it’s safe to take part in sports that have the potential for impact, such as skiing or horse riding. My first response is to ask if the mother has always taken part in the sport and if they are proficient. If the answer is yes, then in general, continuing to participate in the sport they enjoy is acceptable, as long as basic rules are adhered to.

Of course, as the pregnancy progresses, the increase in the size of the bump may simply preclude certain activities on biomechanical grounds as the centre of gravity changes.

Targeting pelvic floor and core strength and stability (80% of pregnant women suffer from back pain) is recommended throughout pregnancy and beyond. I always encourage mums-to-be to include pelvic floor exercises – a strong pelvic floor can help with delivery.

Pippa has made great choices in her exercise and physical activity programme during her first trimester and as a result, has had an excellent start to her pregnancy. I look forward to future instalments of her exercise and pregnancy journey.

Greg's four golden rules

Greg's golden rules


During this time,
aim for maintenance
of fitness rather than improvement.


Reduce the intensity of exercise – walking / running pace, amount
of weight lifted – to a moderate level.


Don't take on any new sports or exercises during pregnancy.


Include pelvic floor exercises in your routine – a strong pelvic floor can help with the delivery.

Eating well during pregnancy

EXPERT ADVICE – Eating well during pregnancy

Sports nutritionist Anita Bean highlights key dietary advice for mums-to-be during the early stages of pregnancy


With all the extra demands on your body, pregnancy is not the time to skimp on training fuel or go on a diet. Eating too few calories can put your baby’s growth and health at risk. On the other hand, you don’t need to eat for two. Calorie intake doesn’t increase much during the first and second trimesters, so you should eat roughly the same amount of food as you did before becoming pregnant, and follow NHS advice to take a supplement containing 400 micrograms folic acid (up to the 12th week) and 10 micrograms vitamin D.

During pregnancy, blood sugar levels are more susceptible to dip so make sure you fuel properly pre-workout. If you exercise first thing in the morning or you’ve had a gap longer than 4 hours since eating, have a high-carb snack such as a banana or a fruit and nut bar. This will help your body sustain healthy blood sugar levels throughout your workout. Hydration is especially important when you’re pregnant because your body is making amniotic fluid for the baby. Drink 350-500ml around 2–4 hours before exercising and 150-250ml every 20 minutes during exercise. Even if you don’t feel thirsty afterwards, replenish the fluids lost during the exercise. If there will be more than 2 hours until your next mealtime, eat a recovery snack, such as yogurt with fruit.

Your pregnancy nutrition goal is to replenish every calorie burned. Remember, you’re exercising for cardiovascular fitness and wellbeing, not fat loss.