Staying active during pregnancy has many benefits for the health of both mum and bub, including:
- preparing for labour and recovery
- lower risk of gestational diabetes
- less back and pelvic pain
- lower risk of incontinence
- better mental health, including a lower risk of postnatal depression.
If you and your baby are healthy, you should aim to meet the physical and sedentary behaviour guidelines for adults during pregnancy. This means being active most days, preferably every day, to a weekly total of either:
- 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity
- 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity
- an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities.
Do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days each week. Aim to do strengthening activities, such as light resistance training or bodyweight exercises.
Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you do no physical activity right now, start by doing some, then slowly build up to the recommended amount.
Types of activity
Include both aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises in your daily routine, which could include:
- brisk walking
- stationary cycling
- light resistance activities.
You should aim to do pelvic floor exercises every day, while pregnant, then for life, to keep your pelvic muscles strong and avoid problems like incontinence. Learn the correct technique for pelvic floor exercises.
Intensity of activity
Physical activity during pregnancy doesn’t have to be vigorous to be beneficial.
For a simple way to measure intensity, try the ‘talk test’. You should be able to carry on a conversation during moderate intensity activities, but in vigorous intensity activities you would find this difficult.
If you’re planning to be very active during your pregnancy – for example, if you’re an athlete or already do more than the amount of activity recommended – get advice or supervision from an informed and appropriately qualified health professional.
As your pregnancy progresses and your body changes, you might have to modify your physical activity. Avoid any activity that:
- has a high risk of falling or collision
- requires heavy lifting
- has significant changes in pressure (such as sky diving or scuba diving)
- gives you pain or discomfort.
To exercise safely:
- stay well hydrated
- avoid exercising in hot weather, especially in high humidity
- avoid standing still or lying down for long periods
- avoid physical activity at high altitude (above 2,000 metres)
- always wear appropriate shoes, non-restrictive clothing and a supportive bra.
Speak with your doctor to determine the type of activity that best suits you.
If you have complications get expert advice from a health professional before starting, continuing or returning to physical activity.
Limiting time sitting and lying down
Long periods of sitting can offset the benefits of being physically active, so it’s important to:
- reduce the time you spend sitting
- break up long periods of sitting or standing still.
Returning to pre-pregnancy activity
The timing of resuming physical activity after childbirth is different for everyone. A gradual return to recommended levels of activity is generally safe after your 6-week postnatal health check, but this might vary depending on your individual circumstances.
For more information about our activity recommendations for pregnancy, see: