The benefits of exercising during pregnancy

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As an Physiotherapist, I am often asked, “Is it safe for me to exercise?”, or “What’s the best way to exercise when you’re pregnant?”

It appears to be a common area of confusion or worry for those about to embark on their journey through pregnancy. I thought it would be a great time to delve into the topic in the hopes that this information will help and encourage people to continue to be active throughout their pregnancy and beyond.

So, what are the benefits of exercise?

The benefits of physical activity are far-reaching. You do not need to look any further than the recommendations set by the World Health Organisation to see that physical activity leads to benefits in the following:

  • All-cause mortality
  • Cardiovascular disease mortality
  • Incident Hypertension
  • Incident Type II Diabetes
  • Mental Health (reducing depression and anxiety)
  • Cognitive health
  • Sleep

And this is not an exhaustive list by any means, and these are certainly some handy benefits right there! If you would like to read more on the many benefits of physical activity check out or blog here and also this one here.

Does this differ in pregnancy?

A recent systematic review by Ribeiro, Et. Al. found that on top of the above-listed benefits, we also see pregnancy specific benefits as a result of physical activity (Ribeiro, Andrade and Nunes, 2021).

This included benefits for the following:

  • Gestational diabetes mellitus
  • Excessive gestational weight gain
  • Hypertensive disorders
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Foetal macrosomia
  • Lumboplevic pain
  • Anxiety and prenatal depression

The authors found that compliance to current guidelines is sufficient to achieve these main benefits of exercise. It is recommended that exercise type and intensity should be based on the individual’s previous fitness level or started at low intensity with gradual progression for those that have no recent history of regular exercise.

They are some great benefits, but what are the risks?

One of the biggest barriers to beginning or continuing exercise during pregnancy is the concern for potential risks involved to both the mother and the developing baby.

Ribeiro et, al., found that the risk involved with exercising while pregnant is quite low. There appears to be no strong evidence at this stage that exercise increased the risk of pre-term birth. There was also no evidence to suggest that maternal core temperature does not increase to dangerous levels with exercise.

The guidelines detailed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) state, “If you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it is safe to continue or start regular physical activity. Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery.” (Exercise DuringPregnancy, 2022)

The ACOG do state that care should be taken in exercise selection due to some of the changes that occur during pregnancy. These include:

  • Limit high impact or jerky motions due to changes to hormone levels, most notably, relaxin.
  • Show care with balance exercises. This is related to an increase in weight in the front of the body which may impact balance and increase the risk of falling.

Some other important precautions include:

  • Monitor water intake to avoid dehydration and dizziness
  • Monitor position while exercising – Lying supine in the third trimester may be troublesome.
  • Emphasise a regular breathing pattern – Oxygen demands will be higher while exercising and it is important to limit breath holding to avoid dizziness.

Overall, exercising while pregnant is very safe and should be encouraged to reap the benefits that exercise offers.

If you are still unsure and would like some professional assistance or would just like to get started, we are here to help. Book with us or call 1300 920 520 for more information. We would love to help through this wonderful period.


  1. WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020. Licence: CCBY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
  2. Ribeiro, M.,Andrade, A. and Nunes, I., 2021. Physical exercise in pregnancy: benefits, risks, and prescription. Journal of Perinatal Medicine, 50(1), pp.4-17.
  3. 2022. Exercise During Pregnancy. [online] Available at:<>[Accessed 15 August 2022].

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