Staying active during pregnancy and making healthy food choices

A couple smile while taking a photo
Nikia working out while pregnant

Being active and eating healthy during pregnancy each have lots of benefits — and doing both is even better. While it can be hard to get motivated if you’re not feeling your best, remember that small steps really do add up!

Learn how Nikia has found ways to have an active pregnancy — and how she’s making healthy food choices for herself and her baby.

How I move my way

When I found out I was pregnant, I had so many questions. I wanted to be as healthy as possible for myself and my baby — but I worried about what was safe. Would I still be able to ride my bike and do other things I enjoy?

Then my doctor told me that lots of activities are safe to do during pregnancy. In fact, I learned being active can even help me have a healthier pregnancy.

But I also quickly realized that getting active during pregnancy isn’t always easy. During the first 12 weeks, I felt nauseous and tired a lot. That meant I had to find ways to get active that I could do even when I wasn’t feeling great. So I started taking walks — some days very short ones! — and I found free prenatal exercise videos online.

I’m further along in my pregnancy now, but there are still days when I have low energy. I just do as much as I can, when I can. And I’ve noticed that even a few minutes of activity helps me feel better.

Nikia working out while pregnant

Pregnant people need a mix of physical activity to stay healthy

5 circles, each containing a stick figure doing an aerobic activity: climbing stairs, doing pelvic floor and core exercises, taking a prenatal fitness class, practicing yoga, and walking briskly.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity

Adults need at least 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity — anything that gets the heart beating faster. And that’s still true during pregnancy! Lots of activities are safe — just avoid contact sports where you could fall or get hit in the belly, and be sure not to lie flat on your back after the first trimester.


Muscle-strengthening activity

Try to also do muscle-strengthening activities 2 days a week — for example, do squats or use water bottles as weights. Keeping your muscles strong can help your body cope with the demands of pregnancy. It can even make labor and delivery easier.

3 circles, each containing a stick figure doing a muscle-strengthening activity: lifting weights, gardening and weeding, and doing resistance exercises with elastic bands or tubes.

How I make every bite count

I never used to think too much about what I ate. But when I got pregnant, I wanted to make sure my baby and I were both getting what we needed to stay healthy. I was already taking prenatal vitamins, but my doctor also recommended adding more variety to my diet. Now I try to make sure I eat something from different food groups throughout the day. I’ve found that foods I don’t have to cook — like fruits, salads, and yogurt — are great, easy options on days when I’m low on energy and don’t want to make a big meal.

I also learned that seafood is great to eat when you’re pregnant. My doctor told me it helps my baby’s brain develop, and it’s a healthy source of protein. Seafood wasn’t a big part of my diet before, but now I try to eat it at least once or twice a week. I just make sure it’s cooked well, and I choose options that are lower in mercury — like salmon or tilapia. Canned salmon on a salad is my favorite!

Nikia eating a salad

When you’re pregnant, adding variety to your plate matters more than ever. Choose items from all 5 food groups to help make sure both you and your baby are getting the nutrients you need:

Vegetables — all veggies are great, but broccoli and dark leafy greens like spinach are packed with important nutrients (like folate and iron). 

Fruits — enjoy snacking on orange slices, apples, or berries for a tasty dose of vitamins and fiber.

Grains — aim to make half your grains whole grains, which have more fiber. Try having a bowl of oatmeal with fruit for breakfast.

Protein foods — lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, or plant proteins like beans or lentils are great options.

Dairy — try some low-fat yogurt or snack on low-fat cheese to add some calcium and iodine to your diet.

Read more stories about eating healthy along with being active

Want to learn more about making healthy changes? Check out these resources: has information about healthy eating and making safe food choices during pregnancy, including an option to create your personalized MyPlate Plan and this fact sheet with nutrition tips


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides guidance about eating fish during pregnancy.

Move Your Way is your go-to resource for tips to help you get moving — check out the interactive tool to build your activity plan and this fact sheet for getting active during pregnancy.

This video has tips and tricks for moving more while you’re pregnant.