Exercise guidelines for pregnancy

Despite being an enthusiastic exerciser it was only when I was running a MSc module in Exercise and Nutrition in Pregnancy, that I became aware that guidelines for exercise in pregnancy existed. Research today suggests these guidelines are still not widely distributed and that much advice women receive is based on anecdote and hearsay rather than sound evidence.

pregnancy infographic
© Infographic is licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

While there are some minor differences between the NHS, national and international guidelines for exercise in pregnancy, the key recommendations are the same. Interestingly the advice for women with healthy pregnancies is almost identical to their non-pregnant counterparts.

These are based on the premis that:

1. Physical activity in pregnancy has minimal risks and has been shown to benefit most women, although some modification to exercise routines may be necessary because of normal anatomic and physiologic changes and fetal requirements.

2. Regular physical activity during pregnancy improves or maintains physical fitness, helps with weight management, reduces the risk of gestational diabetes in obese women, and enhances psychologic well-being.

The UK recommendations are summarised in this infographic

Further details and evidence supporting the infographic have been developed for health professionals who advise women, available here by following this link. While aimed at health professionals they contain some interesting advice for anyone wanting more detail on this subject.

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