Dancing – A Fun and Rewarding Workout During Pregnancy

Dancing is an excellent exercise during pregnancy! Not only do you get to move your body to music you love, but it will keep you flexible while toning your muscles. You can get a cardiovascular workout from any fast-paced dance, or stretch and maintain muscle tone when you hold positions in ballet. Before doing any kind of pregnancy exercise, be sure to get clearance from your healthcare provider. If you danced regularly before getting pregnant, you can probably continue dancing at the same intensity as before, but you’ll need to make modifications as your belly expands. If your provider gives you the green light, you can use dance as your workout routine as often as you want. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most or all days of the week. Learn more about the benefits of pregnancy exercise.


Tips for dancing in the first trimester

Dance as you normally would, but keep a few precautions in mind:

  • Warm-up first. Warming up prepares your joints and muscles for exercise, which also builds up your heart rate slowly. Skipping a warm-up could strain ligaments and joints, leading to injury. The most effective way to warm up is by dancing at low intensity and gradually building it up over 5 to 8 minutes to your workout level.
  • Listen to your body. Adjust the intensity of your dancing according to how you feel. Slow down if you can’t carry on a conversation comfortably, and take a break if you can’t catch your breath.
  • Be gentle. Keep your workout easy on your joints by keeping one foot on the floor at all times. If your joints get sore from doing certain moves, try substituting others, such as marching or stepping side to side.

Always be aware of your body’s limitations and pay attention to signs that you’re doing too much. These include severe muscle weakness and soreness after a workout, or feeling exhausted instead of invigorated afterward.


Tips for dancing in the second and third trimesters

  • Your center of gravity shifts as your belly gets bigger. Keep your balance by avoiding moves that make you feel unstable, and slow down if you find yourself wobbling between steps.
  • Shorten the range of motion of your movements (such as shortening your bends or not stepping as wide).
  • If you feel pain during dance workouts, keep track of how long you can exercise before the joint or muscle discomfort begins, and don’t dance that long.
  • If you join a group dance class, always make sure you have at least a leg’s length of room between you and others. Otherwise, someone might accidentally kick or push you during routines.

A key for keeping dance safe during pregnancy is to keep in mind that your body may respond differently each day you exercise. What works for you one day may not feel as comfortable the next, so adjust your routine as often as needed. Also, make sure the shoes you’re wearing fit the sport. Running shoes aren’t a good choice for dancing because they tend to be heavy, and the wider soles can cause tripping with dance moves. Invest in a pair of shoes that are designed for dance movement, and measure your foot to make sure you’re wearing the correct size. (Your feet can become larger during pregnancy).


What to do if you’re sore after a dance workout

If joint or muscle discomfort or pain doesn’t go away after a day or two, stop your routine and rest for three to five days. If this doesn’t help, you may need to find a different type of exercise, such as swimming, that won’t put stress on your joints. Always follow up with your healthcare provider if you still have the injury after a week.


About that extra flexibility…

When you’re pregnant, your body releases a hormone called relaxin to loosen up the ligaments in your pelvis so that the birth canal can expand. But relaxin affects you from head to toe. The extra flexibility may seem like a great thing for a dancer, but it actually means you’ll need to take extra care to prevent injury. 


Find your dance tribe

BFW invites you to join our dance community of mommies and mommy’s to be with our specially tailored virtual class during pregnancy. You will enjoy a diverse group of amazing women who know just how valuable and memorable dancing can be for you and your baby. To get the most out of a workout at home, try this virtual class with us (in English or Spanish).