Can I Exercise When Pregnant?

Is it safe to exercise when pregnant?

The answer is yes! If you have any concerns or reasons why you think you or your baby might be at risk during exercise then speak to a medical professional and they'll point you in the right direction.

The current evidence

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG), the NHS and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) all recommend exercise for pregnant women.

Whether you begin exercising because you are pregnant or continuing your existing exercise plan, the NHS say that “all women should be encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancy”.

NICE confirm, “high intensity physical activity will not harm an expectant mum or her unborn child. At least 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity is recommended.” Be mindful that now isn't the time to go for a personal best; The NHS is keen to make clear that fitness goals in pregnancy should be related to maintaining fitness throughout pregnancy without trying to reach your peak.

Are there any health benefits to my baby if I exercise when pregnant?

The NHS Start 4 Life campaign recommends exercise when pregnant to reduce the risk of miscarriage and still birth. Moderate exercise it is not harmful to the foetus, nor does it increase the chances of an adverse pregnancy or neonatal outcomes. If you have any concerns or experience any abnormal discomfort when you exercise, seek medical advice.

Are there any health benefits to me if I exercise when pregnant?

The benefits to pregnant women of exercising are numerous and include:

  • Reduced risk of preeclampsia
  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Improved labour
  • Cardiovascular exercise not only increases stamina, but the stretches done in classes like yoga and pilates will prepare the hips and pelvic area for the labour. Breathing techniques taught in these classes can also help to relieve pain
  • More energy
  • Reduced stress
  • Endorphins released during exercise lift our mood
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Expending energy during the day contributes to a more restful nights sleep
  • Reduced back pain
  • Improved bowel transit
  • Alleviation of pain in joints
  • Reduced risk of varicose veins
  • Increased heartrate and contracting muscles result in better circulation and venous return
  • Reduced risk of osteoporosis
  • Running and other weight bearing exercises increases bone density. This ensures the body is more suited to supporting the weight gained during pregnancy.
  • Higher bone density during pregnancy will reduce the impact of calcium loss which occurs during breast feeding