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Evidence- Based Physical Activity Guidelines for Pregnant Women. 2021

Recently I attended an online conference.  These are always great, and you learn so much.  Keeping up to date with the latest research developments is an important part of being a healthcare professional.

One of the speakers Dr Melanie Hayman had recently been working with a group of researchers to formulate a set of guidelines for physical activity in pregnant women.  This is an Australian guideline, but relevant here too. 

If you want to check out the full document, here is the link.

Exercise during pregnancy has many benefits.  However many pregnant women are not considered to be significantly active, and many “influencers” have undue influence, often encouraging poor exercise behaviours.  Some App content is also not in accordance with current guidelines. 

So what should you be doing:

How often should pregnant women exercise?

-Be active on most if not all days of the week

-Be as active as possible, try and avoid sedentary behaviours.

How intense should exercise be?

-Moderate intensity  (somewhat hard – can talk, but not sing)

-Elite athletes who want to push past these recommendations should be monitored by suitably qualified health professionals.

How long should exercise be for?

-150-300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise throughout the week

-Increase activity, decrease sedentary postures

-Move frequently and more often, avoiding prolonged bouts of sitting and motionless standing.

-All exercise counts.


-Aerobic and endurance training – make modifications based on past training, as the body changes shape, some thing maybe come more difficult and uncomfortable.

-Resistance training – the effect of heavy weight training is unknown, so probably better to look at sub-maximal resistance training (if straining – probably too heavy)

Pelvic Floor training

-Women should engage in regular pelvic floor training during pregnancy, if in doubt that you are doing it properly, see a pelvic floor physiotherapist. 

Activities to Avoid

-Contact sports e.g. Rugby, boxing

-Sports with potential contact

-Sudden change of direction sports

-Scuba diving and Sky diving

-Exercising in excessively hot or humid conditions

-Lying on back (stop if get any side effects)

-Exercises that increase pressure in abdomen e.g. Heavy weights, sit ups, planks

Be aware that pregnancy causes many changes in the body, so some things that you were able to do pre pregnancy may be come difficult as the pregnancy proceeds.  Always listen to the advice of your lead maternity carer and doctor.  (There are some pregnancy related conditions that mean you need more specific guidance on what to do).

The main message is that exercise in pregnancy is safe and beneficial, even if you weren’t active before it is important that you try and be active during your pregnancy. 

N.B. This is a review of guidelines for the complete guidelines see the link at top of blog.


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