Exercise During Pregnancy

26.Apr.21 | Physiotherapy, Pilates

By Phoebe Kipen

Exercise during pregnancy can often be a very personal topic. For women who have not been hugely active through their life, it often is a time they feel pressured to be more physically active. For those who are very active or even elite sportswomen, it can pose questions about what they can and cannot do in terms of activity.

No matter what level of activity you are used too, it is always good to discuss your current exercise practise with a qualified practitioner early (first trimester) in your pregnancy. This will allow you to assess your needs in terms of carrying a successful pregnancy and prepare you for not only the birth process but the physically demanding role of being a mother.

There is no magic number when it comes to exercise during pregnancy, however there are strong guidelines in terms of exercise safety. Sports Medicine Australia published a position statement based on current literature about exercise benefits and risks during pregnancy.



  • There are numerous benefits to pregnant woman to remain active during pregnancy. These include improved weight control and maintenance of fitness. There may also be benefits in terms of reduced risk of development of gestational diabetes mellitus and improved psychological functioning.
  • Moderate intensity aerobic exercise has been shown to be safe in pregnancy. A number of studies now indicate that for trained athletes it may be possible to exercise at a higher level than is currently recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
  • Studies of resistance training, incorporating moderate weights and avoiding maximal isometric contractions, have shown no adverse outcomes. There may be benefits of increased strength and flexibility.
  • The risk of neural tube defects due to exercise -induced hyperthermia that is suggested by animal studies is less likely in women, because of more effective mechanisms of heat dissipation in humans.
  • There is accumulating evidence to suggest that participation in moderate intensity exercise throughout pregnancy may enhance birth weight, while more severe or frequent exercise, maintained for longer into the pregnancy, may result in lighter babies.
  • There have been no reports of foetal injury or death in relation to trauma or contact during sporting activities. Despite this, a risk of severe blunt trauma is present in some sporting situations as pregnancy progresses.
  • Exercise and lactation are compatible in the post-partum period, providing adequate calories are consumed. Considerations of pelvic floor function and type of delivery are relevant in planning a return to certain types of exercise at this time.


If you have any questions about exercising during pregnancy, please come in and see me. There are no set types of exercise that work for everyone, but making sure what you enjoy doing is safe and appropriate for pregnancy is hugely important.


Sports Medicine Australia. (2017). SMA Pregnancy Statement [Press release].