Exercise advice for pregnant women

PREGNANT women should do two and a half hours of moderate intensity exercise a week in a bid to reduce obesity and improve fitness, the UK’s chief medical officers have said.

Expectant mothers are being encouraged to engage in exercise that “makes you breathe faster, while still being able to hold a conversation”.

The new advice from the chief medical officers (CMOs) of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland – which they believe is the first of its kind in the world – aims to reduce issues such as obesity, diabetes and other health concerns during pregnancy.

They have produced a new infographic in a bid to give health professionals and the leisure sector the best advice to pass on to pregnant women.

Women who have not been active before pregnancy are recommended to follow a gradual progression of exercise – beginning with 10 minute bouts of moderate intensity exercise, gradually building up to 150 minutes. The CMOs advise the activity should be spread throughout the week, and that “every activity counts”.

The downloadable infographic illustrates a range of potential activities, from cycling and swimming to dancing and walking up stairs. It suggests bouts of exercise lasting at least 10 minutes, but warns “listen to your body and adapt” and “don’t bump the bump”.

Scotland’s chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood said: “The latest evidence shows that regular, moderate exercise during pregnancy reduces blood pressure problems, improves fitness, lowers weight gain and reduces the risk of diabetes.

“My advice to pregnant women is to listen to their body and adapt their exercise regime accordingly. If you’re not already active, start gradually - and if you are active, just keep going. If anything feels uncomfortable, then stop and seek advice.”

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