Is it safe to exercise in pregnancy?

Yes it is. In fact, if your pregnancy is uncomplicated, it is safer to exercise than not to as it brings down the risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.

Pregnant woman on cross-trainer.

Research also shows that women who were active before pregnancy but then stopped exercising when they became pregnant had longer labour times and more interventions during delivery than those who kept exercising to the end of their pregnancy.

Exercise has not been shown to cause miscarriage. And women who exercise have been shown to have a reduced risk of premature birth.

If you are concerned about your baby being jolted around as you continue exercising as normal, don’t worry – this isn’t the case. Your baby is securely cocooned within you and may even find the movement relaxing.

Staying active also:

  • helps you sleep better
  • reduces your likelihood of suffering from the common complaints of pregnancy, such as varicose veins, swollen feet and tiredness.
  • reduces your stress levels.

You can exercise during your pregnancy even if you have not been active before. Walking, swimming, pregnancy yoga or aquanatal classes, are good ways to exercise during pregnancy.

Here are some simple tips to keep your exercise safe:

  • If you have pregnancy complications talk to your doctor before exercising.
  • Don’t overheat – drink water regularly and don’t exercise in very hot temperatures (unless you’re used to it).
  • If you go to an exercise class that’s not just for pregnant women, make sure you tell the teacher that you’re pregnant.
  • Don’t exercise on your back after 16 weeks.
  • Don’t scuba dive, exercise at high altitudes or do exercises where your bump might get hit (such as football or judo).
  • Be careful with exercise where you could fall (such as cycling, horse riding or skiing).
  • If you have any unusual pains stop exercising immediately and contact your doctor or midwife.

Download and print your weekly exercise goal plan here

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  1. RCOG (2006) Exercise in Pregnancy: Statement No. 4, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: 
  2. Clapp JF (1990) ‘The course of labor after endurance exercise during pregnancy’ American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 163 (6 Pt 1): 1799–805: [accessed 23 February 2015].
  3. Juhl M, Andersen PK, Olsen J, Madsen M, Jørgensen T, Nøhr EA, Andersen AM (2008) ‘Physical exercise during pregnancy and the risk of preterm birth: a study within the Danish National Birth Cohort’, American Journal of Epidemiology, 167 (7): 859–66: 
  4. Tinloy J, Chuang CH, Zhu J, Pauli J, Kraschnewski JL, Kjerulff KH (2014) ‘Exercise during pregnancy and risk of late preterm birth, cesarean delivery, and hospitalizations’, Women’s Health Issues, 24 (1): e99–e104: doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2013.11.003: 
  5.  Paisley TS, Joy EA, Price RJ Jr. (2003) ‘Exercise during pregnancy: a practical approach’, Current Sports Medicine Reports 2 (6): 325–30:
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Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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