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Exercising on Bed Rest

Bed rest can be a very important and delicate time during pregnancy, and any form of exercise should be cleared with your doctor first. It’s important to find out from your doctor whether it’s OK to sit up in bed or whether you need to remain on your side.

Despite the frustration of having to stay in bed, there are lots of opportunities for you to continue using your muscles even if you can’t stand up to exercise. In fact, it’s a very good idea to avoid deconditioning (which can begin in less than 48 hours!) by continuing some form of resistance training and gentle stretching.


The Body Conceptions Method encourages women to exercise with music to make the process more enjoyable. Put together a playlist of your favorite music, and pick songs with moderate tempos. Try moving with the music, and notice how much easier it is to complete each exercise!


It’s a great idea to get a theraband to add resistance to your exercises. Moderate to light resistance bands are recommended.

  1. Sitting upright, loop the theraband under the tops of your thighs and loop the ends around each hand. Keeping your elbows anchored by your sides, pull up the bands in bicep curls. Repeat 16X. You can do this lying on your side, one arm at a time.
  2. Sitting upright, loop the theraband around both feet, and hold the ends in each hand. Keeping the shoulders relaxed, perform a rowing movement by pulling back the elbows and squeezing the shoulder blades together. Repeat 16X.
  3. You can also perform this movement on your side with each arm separately. You can do it without a band (extending the arm forward and then pulling the elbow back while squeezing the shoulder blades) or attaching the band to something next the bed at chest level.


  1. Kegels are some of the most important exercises to perform during pregnancy and can prevent incontinence after pregnancy and later in life. Engage the pelvic floor muscles as if you’re stopping urine flow (without tightening your buttocks) and hold for 10 seconds. Release, and repeat 10X. Try this twice a day.
  2. Pelvic tilts can be performed on your side or sitting up in bed “Indian style.” Inhale and lengthen the neck and chest, then exhale while tucking your pelvis under and pulling your naval into the spine. Try adding a Kegel during the exhale. Repeat 10X.

Lower Body

  1. Trying drawing the alphabet with your toes on each foot. You can do this lying down or sitting up.
  2. Begin lying on your side, either resting your head on your arm or on a pillow. Bend the lower leg for stability, and lift the upper leg a little higher than hip level. Keeping the leg straight and the toes and knees facing forward, pulse the leg up and down 16X. You can also try drawing little circles in the air with your toes in this position.


  1. It’s important to open your chest and shoulders on bed rest. Sitting upright, clasp your hands together behind your head, and open the elbows back as far as you can for 10 seconds. Make sure you keep breathing! Repeat 2X. You can also try this one arm at a time on your side.
  2. Lie on your side with your head on your arm or pillow. Bend your top leg, and hold your foot in your hand. Try to pull your foot toward your buttocks while slowly lowering the top leg down to the other leg to stretch the quad muscles. Hold for 10 seconds, and repeat 2X on each side.
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