Is it ok during pregnancy?
In most cases, yes.
Research shows that moderate or gentle physical activity during pregnancy can be very beneficial to both mother and developing baby. During pregnancy and afterwards, as long as there are no know medical conditions that would prevent this, it is ok for you to follow the moderate intensity physical activity recommendations given for adults.
What are the benefits?
- Exercise is not dangerous for your baby - there is some evidence that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour.
- Can improve posture and reduce lower back pain.
- You reduce the chances of developing complications such as high blood pressure, diabetes, circulatory problems in the legs such as thrombosis (blood clots) and varicose veins and reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia.
- It will also help keep you stronger and more able to cope with labour and help you get back into shape after the birth.
- The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain.
- It gives you more energy, helps you sleep better, and reduces feelings of stress, anxiety and depression both during pregnancy and after labour.
- Combined with healthy eating, it can help keep down the amount of weight gained during pregnancy which is better for both you and your baby both in the short and long term.
Will I need to reduce activity levels?
If you already lead an active lifestyle, or you exercise regularly, as long as your pregnancy is progressing well you should not need to drastically reduce your activity levels, although it may be worth a discussion with a healthcare professional e.g. midwife or GP so adjustments can be made, if necessary. If you are not already quite active there is no need to suddenly take up strenuous exercise during your pregnancy.
In most cases:
- For those who are already active, continuing to do 150 minutes throughout the week of 'safe' activities, such as walking, swimming, low impact aerobics or dancing will be beneficial.
- For those not already active, aim to increase physical activity gently and daily, (in short bouts of 10 minutes), to build up to the recommended guideline of 150 minutes per week.
- As the pregnancy develops, the amount, type and intensity of activity may need to be reduced.
What activities are best or, which should I avoid?
Activities such as walking, swimming or dancing are good but generally just making sure you move about everyday rather than spending long periods of time sitting or lying down. Avoid contact sports, scuba diving or activities at high altitude. For more advice about being active or exercising during pregnancy NHS Choices has lots of up to date information, tips and advice to help keep you and your baby fit and well.
What about after the birth?
Rather than recommending a set time period before you can exercise, we would advise you discuss this with your midwife or GP shortly after your baby is born.
If you would like further information, please consult the 'helpful links' section on this page.
A USA study showed in 2010 mothers with younger children spent nearly 14 hours less a week on physical activity than in 1965, using nearly 1,600 less calories a week. Instead, more time was spent on things like watching TV or using smartphones.
Performing pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy can strengthen the muscles and help to reduce or avoid stress incontinence after pregnancy.
You are 4.5 times more likely to have a caesarean section if you are not active during pregnancy.
30 minutes of walking every day during pregnancy can help to keep both you and your growing baby healthy.
Physical activity doesn't have to be strenuous to be beneficial; its about moving more and sitting less.
Regular exercise can make you feel better and less tired.
Swimming is a great form of all-round exercise for all the family. As you are supported by the water, it's ideal if you want to be more active and stay healthy, whatever your age or ability.
Sign your family up to the 10 Minute Shake Up from Change4Life and Disney to help your family move more this summer.