exercise and pregnancy

Safe exercise for the expectant mum (and bump!)

What an exciting (not to mention worrying, stressful, anxious and busy) time if you are expecting. As an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP), a common concern that I hear is, “Is it safe to exercise throughout my pregnancy?”


It is always recommended to speak with your doctor or obstetrician before commencing a new exercise regime or continuing with exercise throughout your pregnancy. Once given the all clear, your next best point of call is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP). All AEPs are trained to be able to prescribe safe and suitable exercise through out your entire pregnancy. An AEP is your best resource to advise on what to do and what not to do with your exercise regime whilst you are expecting.

Exercise may be the last thing you are feeling like doing whilst battling nausea and fatigue, amongst a host of other symptoms, however it is one of the best things that you can do for the health of you and your baby. Exercise is a great way to prevent gestational diabetes and excessive weight gain; improve your energy and mood; keep your body strong (in preparation for lifting your new baby!); help you sleep well and prepare you for labour.

Exercise is also a great way to prevent and treat back and postural pain associated with changes in body shape that occur with pregnancy. Back pain is common and can be related to the changes in centre of gravity which occur as baby moves forward, causing an increased arch (also known as lordosis) in the lower back. Postural or thoracic pain can also be experienced as the breasts increase in size and consequently cause the shoulders and mid back area to slump forward. Pregnancy Pilates is one of the best forms of exercise to tackle both back and postural pain, as well as strengthen the core and pelvic floor, stretch tight muscles and assist to relieve generalised muscular aches.

Other safe options for physical activity include Pregnancy Yoga, walking, stationary cycling and aquatic/water exercise. If given the all clear by your doctor, these gentle forms of exercise can often be continued throughout the entire pregnancy.

Not all types of exercise are safe throughout pregnancy, so again it is always recommended to seek the advice of an AEP to avoid doing more harm than good. A small example of exercises to avoid include sit-ups or crunches, contact sports, activities which increase your risk of having a fall, ballistic exercises (i.e. bouncing or jumping) and exercises lying on your back.

The current recommendation by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is exercising 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week. It is important to consider your activity level before you were pregnant and progress your exercise slowly under the guidance of an AEP. Always listen to your body, as you know it best; being aware of any adverse symptoms including dizziness, bleeding or leaking of amniotic fluid, decreased foetal movement, headaches, unusual swelling, nausea or vomiting. Ensure to seek immediate medical attention if you do experience any of the above mentioned.




With the right guidance, many women are able to safely engage in some form of exercise throughout their pregnancy. Remember that your body is going through a lot of changes during this time so it is even more important than normal to stay well hydrated and take rest breaks as needed. No better time than now to get moving!




Accredited Exercise Physiologist from Cairns with 7 years of experience in the profession.