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

Exercise does not cause miscarriage, according to research. And women who exercise have been shown to have a reduced risk of premature birth.

Some women worry about their baby being shaken around while they exercise, but this isn’t the case. Your baby is safe and secure within your womb and may even find the movement relaxing.

Staying active can also help:

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.

Or you could try our quick and easy pregnancy workout.

Tips for exercising safely in pregnancy:

  1. If you have any pregnancy complications talk to your doctor before exercising.
  2. Don’t overheat – drink water regularly and don’t exercise in very hot temperatures (unless you’re used to it).
  3. If you go to an exercise class that’s not just for pregnant women, tell the teacher that you’re pregnant.
  4. Don’t exercise on your back after 16 weeks. Find out why exercising on your back is not recommended.
  5. Don’t scuba dive, exercise at high altitudes or do exercises where your bump might get hit (such as football, rugby or martial arts).
  6. Be careful with exercises where you could fall (such as outdoor cycling, horse riding or skiing).
  7. If you have any unusual pains, stop exercising immediately and contact your doctor or midwife.
  8. Pay attention to your heart rate during more intense exercise. If you’re at the gym, a trainer will be able to check this for you. Here’s what to aim for:

Your age

Heart rate (beats/minute)

Less than 20 years 140-155
20-29 years 135-150
30-39 years 130-145
Over 40 years 125-140

Download and print your weekly exercise goal plan

Read more

Sources

  1. RCOG (2006) Exercise in Pregnancy: Statement No. 4, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/statements/statement-no-4.pdf 
  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:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2256485 [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: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18303008 
  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: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24439953 
  5.  Paisley TS, Joy EA, Price RJ Jr. (2003) ‘Exercise during pregnancy: a practical approach’, Current Sports Medicine Reports 2 (6): 325–30: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14583162
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Last reviewed on July 31st, 2018. Next review date July 31st, 2021.

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