Exercise: new guidelines say every little helps!

Even short bursts of exercise, like running up some stairs, can have a positive effect on women during pregnancy.

UK chief medical officers have updated activity and exercise guidelines for the public, mentioning its importance for pregnant women specifically.

The guidelines now state that quick bursts of physical activity, like running up some stairs, can be extremely useful for reaching our weekly exercise quota.  We should include these small injections of activity to count towards our 150 minutes of moderate to brisk exercise that is recommended on a weekly basis. This amount of exercise is also recommended to pregnant women and new mums too. However, the guidelines state that they should make sure any activity they do is safe and suitable for the stage of pregnancy they are at.  Vigorous activity should be avoided if the individual is not used to it and should only be done gradually after 6 to 8 weeks post giving birth.

The possible benefits of this approach to physical activity for pregnant women are clear, including reducing weight gain and the risk of gestational diabetes. The guidelines also mention how women who engage in moderate activity after giving birth find it easier to regain strength, improve mental well being and return to their pre-pregnancy weight. Pelvic floor exercises are also mentioned in the guidelines, which can help ease the baby out during labour, and help mums recover faster after the birth.

Exercise and activity in pregnancy FAQs

Is it safe to exercise in pregnancy?

If your pregnancy has no complications, it is safer to exercise than not.  Exercise can bring down the risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.

Are there any exercises to avoid in pregnancy?

There are a small number of exercises or activities that may cause injury or other problems for you or your baby. Find out what they are so you can avoid them during pregnancy.

At what stage should I stop exercising in pregnancy?

If you feel comfortable and don’t have any medical issues in pregnancy, you can carry on exercising until your baby is born.

Does exercise cause miscarriage?

Exercise has not been shown to cause miscarriage.

Can I start doing yoga now that I am pregnant?

Yoga is great for pregnant women because it doesn’t put too much strain on your joints. It can also help reduce anxiety so women stay calm in pregnancy and labour.

When should I stop running in pregnancy?

If you’re used to running, it’s fine to carry on during your pregnancy, as long as you feel comfortable.

We have more detailed information on these FAQs.

Our midwife says

“We know that exercising in pregnancy is good for us, but in reality pregnancy can be utterly exhausting. For some women, their pregnancy runs smoothly, and they can continue to jog or swim, do their usual gym classes, or run that Marathon they signed up to. For other women, aiming to naturally increase their daily actively in a gentle way is more appropriate. Try getting off the bus a stop earlier than you need to, walk your kids to school instead of jumping in the car, or go for a gentle swim. Do what is manageable for you.”
Sophie, Tommy's Midwife