Water Aerobics For Pregnancy


Water aerobics during pregnancy offers a refreshing and gentle approach to staying active for expectant mothers. This aquatic exercise regimen combines the benefits of cardiovascular conditioning, muscle strengthening, and flexibility enhancement, all within the soothing embrace of a pool. Guided by trained instructors, pregnant individuals can engage in water aerobics to maintain their fitness levels while minimizing stress on their joints and supporting overall well-being.1

Overview of water aerobics 

Water aerobics, known by various names such as aqua aerobics, aquarobics, and aquafit, encompasses a range of activities like cardio, strength, and interval training. These exercises take place in a pool, usually in a class setting, with participants immersed in waist- to chest-deep water. Accompanied by music and guided by a trained instructor, water-based aerobics provides a comprehensive workout experience.2

The importance of water aerobics during pregnancy

Staying active and maintaining fitness throughout your pregnancy can greatly assist in adjusting to your evolving body and managing weight gain, ultimately aiding in your preparation for labour.2 You can continue your regular daily physical activities or exercises, whether it's engaging in sports, running, practising yoga, dancing, or even taking leisurely walks to nearby stores and back, as long as you feel at ease. Importantly, exercise poses no harm to your baby; in fact, research suggests that active women have a reduced likelihood of encountering issues during the later stages of pregnancy and childbirth.3

Water aerobics as a safe and effective option

Water aerobics is advised in numerous countries, with swimming often hailed as an excellent choice for expectant mothers. Yet, it's worth noting that disinfection by-products present in pool water could potentially negatively impact reproductive outcomes. The investigations delved into the correlation between swimming during pregnancy and factors such as preterm and post-term birth, foetal growth measurements, cases of small-for-gestational-age infants, and the occurrence of congenital malformations.4

Benefits of water aerobics during pregnancy 

How does pregnancy change your daily life?

Do you sometimes feel like your body is carrying extra weight and affecting your movements? 

Have you ever noticed how your body's evolution during pregnancy affects your perception of yourself? 

It's fascinating how your self-image can shift as your body goes through this incredible journey. For many women, pregnancy brings a mix of emotions. Some days, you might feel radiant and empowered, while on others, you might feel a bit heavier and less confident. 

Considering the dynamic changes your body undergoes during pregnancy and the potential challenges you may face in maintaining comfort and mobility, water aerobics could be an excellent solution.

Impact of water aerobics on joints and ligaments

Water aerobics offers distinct advantages, especially for individuals who are overweight or advanced in age and dealing with osteoarthritis. The water's natural buoyancy and gentle waves provide essential support, lessening strain on joints and alleviating discomfort. Additionally, the warmth and water pressure of the aquatic environment works harmoniously to relax muscles, ease tension, reduce stiffness, and promote fluid movement. Notably, water aerobics is also noteworthy for enhancing muscle strength effectively.5,6

Improved circulation and reduced swelling 

In just 45 minutes of water aerobics, foot and leg swelling shrank, backed by precise measurements. Both methods showed a noticeable reduction, proving that this aquatic workout works wonders. Even with compression stockings, the effect was more striking than surgery recovery. Another study peeked at pregnant women splashing in the pool, where they shed some leg volume, but not as much as expected. Don't worry, though; their heart rates stayed safe. This cool water workout might just be the refreshing trick to beat pregnancy swelling, and researchers are diving into more waves of discovery to see how long the magic lasts!7

Enhanced cardiovascular fitness

In today's perspective, women are encouraged to incorporate regular physical activity as a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. Many women already engage in consistent water aerobics or strength-building exercises before becoming pregnant. For some, pregnancy serves as an opportunity to adopt healthier habits. However, it has been a conventional practice for physicians to advise pregnant patients who exercise to reduce their activity levels while also discouraging previously inactive women from initiating new exercise routines such as water aerobics.7

When uncertainties persist regarding the safety of engaging in physical activity such as water aerobics during pregnancy, there is a widely acknowledged understanding that exercising in water is considered a safer option. Water aerobics triggers a redistribution of bodily fluids, resulting in an increase in central blood volume and cardiac output, primarily due to a concurrent rise in stroke volume. Conversely, blood pressure and heart rate decrease.8,9

Safety considerations of water aerobics for pregnancy 

Are you a healthcare provider looking to confidently advise your pregnant patients on the right level of physical activity?

Seeking guidance on how to stay active during pregnancy? Want to ensure you're making the right choices for a healthy journey?

You're on the right path to ensure a well-informed and positive experience.

Approval from healthcare providers 

Healthcare practitioners should maintain an understanding of the prevailing guidelines concerning maternal physical activity (PA), such as water aerobics, along with the underlying research. This comprehension will enhance their capacity to provide appropriate guidance to patients regarding the impact of water aerobics on typical physiological transformations throughout pregnancy, encompassing potential advantages and potential exercise-related risks for both the expectant mother and the developing fetus.10

Historical Background:

  • In the past, due to limited research and concerns about potential risks, a consensus on water aerobics during pregnancy was not universally established.

Milestone in 1985:

  • A significant step was taken in 1985 when the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued its inaugural pregnancy exercise guidelines.
  • These early recommendations were rooted in the existing research of that time but exercised caution, particularly regarding maternal heart rate and activity duration.11

Research Progression:

  • Subsequent decades witnessed a surge in studies examining the effects of physical exercise, such as water aerobics, on pregnant women.
  • This growing body of research aimed to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the interplay between water aerobics and pregnancy.12

Contemporary Perspective:

  • Current guidelines signify a notable evolution in approach.
  • Expectant mothers without complications are now advised to engage in a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity distributed throughout the week.
  • This modern outlook underscores the potential advantages of maintaining an active lifestyle during pregnancy, all while considering individual circumstances.13

Suitable pool environment and temperature 

Did you know that water's thermal properties play a crucial role during prenatal water aerobics? Are you curious about the significance of pool water temperature during aquatic workouts in pregnancy?

Obstetric guidelines concerning physical activity, such as water aerobics during pregnancy, emphasize the importance of engaging in routine, moderate-intensity exercise. These guidelines consistently underscore the need to avoid excessive heat buildup while exercising, as it holds the potential to pose risks to the developing fetus. 

Many expectant mothers find solace in water aerobics, such as swimming or partaking in aqua aerobics classes. These watery workouts come with a wealth of perks, like the gentle caress of buoyancy that eases impact and the profound embrace of hydrostatic pressure, which proves a boon for the heart. Another advantage lies in water's prowess as a heat conductor - 25 times better than air, ensuring exercise-induced body heat finds a quick escape route, provided the temperature balance is right. So, don't underestimate the pool's temperature; it could play a starring role in ensuring you stay cool and comfortable during your water aerobics sessions.14

  • Water temperatures ranging from 33 to 37 °C are classified as thermoneutral for individuals who are not engaging in exercise and are in good health.
  • In pregnant women, this thermoneutral range might lean toward the lower end due to the insulating effect of increased fat storage during pregnancy.
  • The thermoneutral value of water can change during exercise due to the body's internal heat production, and this change is influenced by the intensity and duration of the exercise.
  • A temperature of 30°C is recommended for pregnant women participating in moderate-intensity aquatic exercises like swimming or water aerobics, providing a suitable environment for their activities.15


Recap of benefits and safety of water aerobics

  • Water aerobics in pregnancy offers a gentle and refreshing approach to staying active.
  • Cardiovascular conditioning, muscle strengthening, and flexibility enhancement are integrated into this aquatic exercise.
  • Guided by trained instructors, water aerobics minimizes joint stress and supports overall well-being.
  • Concerns about excessive heat buildup during water aerobics are highlighted to safeguard fetal health.

Encouragement for pregnant individuals to explore water aerobics

  • Embracing water aerobics provides expectant mothers with a soothing and effective workout option.
  • The buoyancy of water eases the impact on joints and ligaments, offering comfort during physical activity.
  • Water aerobics accommodates body changes and contributes positively to self-image and confidence.

Overall positive impact of water aerobics on maternal health and well-being

  • Staying active during pregnancy aids in adapting to bodily changes and managing weight gain.
  • Engaging in water aerobics fosters enhanced circulation, reduced swelling, and cardiovascular fitness.
  • Participation in water aerobics aligns with modern guidelines for maintaining an active lifestyle during pregnancy.
  • By choosing water aerobics, expectant mothers can promote their own well-being and prepare for labour.

Integrating water aerobics into your prenatal regimen offers a comprehensive strategy to enhance fitness and well-being. This practice contributes to your overall physical and mental wellness, supporting you throughout your pregnancy journey.


Are all forms of water aerobics safe during pregnancy?

  • Not all water-based exercises are suitable for both you and your baby during pregnancy. It is advisable to refrain from engaging in activities such as scuba diving, water skiing, or any movements involving abrupt and uncontrolled bouncing or swinging. Additionally, it is recommended to avoid exposure to elevated water temperatures in pools and spas.16

Is it okay to start water aerobics during pregnancy if I haven't exercised before?

  • It is important to understand that pregnancy offers a favourable time to commence an exercise program, even if you have not been physically active before. As advised by public health guidelines, pregnant women are encouraged to partake in moderate exercise, equating to approximately 150 minutes weekly or 30 minutes daily across five days.16

Is the primary goal of exercising during pregnancy solely aimed at facilitating weight loss after giving birth?

  • Exercise during and after pregnancy holds a broader significance beyond weight loss. It notably enhances metabolic function and reduces the risk of cardiometabolic diseases. While exercise is indeed a key component of postpartum weight loss, its enduring health benefits for your body's internal well-being make it a valuable practice.17

Can athletes continue with intense exercise during pregnancy without any worries?

  • High-performance athletes can generally sustain their exercise routines during uncomplicated pregnancies. Nevertheless, it's essential to communicate with your healthcare provider and remain attuned to your body's sensations while exercising throughout pregnancy.16


  1. Basic Types of Water-Based Exercise [Internet]. Harvard Health. 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 11]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/basic-types-of-water-based-exercise
  2. Cancela-Carral JM, Blanco B, López-Rodríguez A. Therapeutic Aquatic Exercise in Pregnancy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. JCM [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Aug 11];11:501. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/11/3/501
  3. Vallim AL, Osis MJ, Cecatti JG, Baciuk ÉP, Silveira C, Cavalcante SR. Water exercises and quality of life during pregnancy. Reproductive Health [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2023 Aug 11];8:14. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1186/1742-4755-8-14
  4. Juhl M, Kogevinas M, Andersen PK, Andersen A-MN, Olsen J. Is Swimming During Pregnancy a Safe Exercise? Epidemiology [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2023 Aug 11];21:253. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/epidem/fulltext/2010/03000/is_swimming_during_pregnancy_a_safe_exercise_.14.aspx
  5. Yázigi F, Espanha M, Vieira F, Messier SP, Monteiro C, Veloso AP. The PICO project: aquatic exercise for knee osteoarthritis in overweight and obese individuals. BMC Musculoskelet Disord [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2023 Aug 11];14:320. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3830983/
  6. Song J-A, Oh JW. Effects of Aquatic Exercises for Patients with Osteoarthritis: Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. Healthcare (Basel) [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Aug 11];10:560. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8955208/
  7. Hartmann S, Huch R. Response of pregnancy leg oedema to a single immersion exercise session: Single immersion exercise for oedema during pregnancy. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica [Internet]. 2005 [cited 2023 Aug 11];84:1150–3. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0001-6349.2005.00829.x
  8. Baciuk EP, Pereira RI, Cecatti JG, Braga AF, Cavalcante SR. Water aerobics in pregnancy: cardiovascular response, labour and neonatal outcomes. Reprod Health [Internet]. 2008 [cited 2023 Aug 11];5:10. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2613131/
  9. Carrascosa M del C, Navas A, Artigues C, Ortas S, Portells E, Soler A, et al. Effect of aerobic water exercise during pregnancy on epidural use and pain: A multi-centre, randomised, controlled trial. Midwifery [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Aug 11];103:103105. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0266613821001856
  10. Muhammad HFL, Pramono A, Rahman MN. The safety and efficacy of supervised exercise on pregnant women with overweight/obesity: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomised controlled trials. Clin Obes [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Aug 11];11. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cob.12428
  11. Hayman M, Reaburn P, Alley S, Cannon S, Short C. What exercise advice are women receiving from their healthcare practitioners during pregnancy? Women and Birth [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Aug 11];33:e357–62. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871519219303245
  12. Bauer PW, Broman CL, Pivarnik JM. Exercise and Pregnancy Knowledge Among Healthcare Providers. Journal of Women’s Health [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2023 Aug 11];19:335–41. Available from: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jwh.2008.1295
  13. Editor. Pregnancy Exercise Guidelines [Internet]. American Pregnancy Association. 2019 [cited 2023 Aug 11]. Available from: https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/exercise-guidelines/
  14. Gundle L, Atkinson A. Pregnancy, cold water swimming and cortisol: The effect of cold water swimming on obstetric outcomes. Medical Hypotheses [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Aug 11];144:109977. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030698772030699X
  15. Brearley AL, Sherburn M, Galea MP, Clarke SJ. Pregnant women maintain body temperatures within safe limits during moderate-intensity aqua-aerobic classes conducted in pools heated up to 33 degrees Celsius: an observational study. Journal of Physiotherapy [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 Aug 11];61:199–203. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1836955315000946
  16. 3 Myths About Exercise and Pregnancy [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Aug 11]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/staying-healthy-during-pregnancy/3-myths-about-exercise-and-pregnancy
  17. Cooper DB, Yang L. Pregnancy And Exercise. StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 11]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430821/
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Marina Ramzy Mourid

Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery - MBBS, Alexandria University

Marina Ramzy Mourid, a diligent medical student at Alexandria University in Egypt, has a strong passion for neurology and a keen interest in research. With a love for science communication, Marina excels not only in her studies but also as a prolific medical writer and author. Her track record speaks volumes, having clinched numerous competitions in article writing over the years.

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