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Exercising during pregnancy for most women is a safe, rewarding activity that can build stamina, tone and reduce recovery time after birth. It is important to be aware that your body is going through significant changes as it prepares for birth. These changes as well as the ongoing health of the fetus mean that any program should be tailored during this important time. Generally speaking exercise should be for shorter periods, less intense and stopped if any discomfort occurs.


During pregnancy your body changes in a number of ways which will in turn affect your ability to exercise.

  • Increaed weight due to your growing baby
  • Body shape changes (affects balance as well as ability to bend and move)
  • Core body temperatures rises by around 1 degree celsius
  • Heart rate increases as you pump more blood to provide oxygen to the growing baby
  • The uterus begins to push up into your diaphragm making it harder to breathe
  • Your body releases a hormone called relaxin which softens joints and ligaments making you more susceptible to injury


There are a number of great benefits and advantages of exercising throughout pregnancy including:

  • Increasing your energy levels
  • Strengthening back muscles
  • Improving posture
  • Controlling weight gain
  • Minimising stress levels
  • Improving sleep and minimising tiredness
  • Reducing risk of developing gestatinal diabetes
  • Reducing swelling
  • Preparing for the physical demands of labour
  • Faster recuperation after labour
  • Fast return to pre pregnancy fitness


  • Be alert to your own condition. Monitor heart rate, temperature and avoid over exertion (Heart rates above 140 beats per minute should be avoided)
  • If you feel too tired, too hot, breathless or uncomfortable in any way STOP!
  • Drink plenty of water when exercising
  • Do a gentle warm up
  • Don't do exercise involving jolting or sudden movements, bouncing, jumping etc.
  • Avoid exercise in the heat (outdoors in summer, saunas, heated pools > 32 degrees celsius
  • Avoid exercise where the risk of falling or physical contact may be high
  • Don't exercise when you feel unwell
  • Let the appropriate people know you are pregnant (coaches/trainers etc.)


Although most women will benefit from gentle exercise during pregnancy, there are a number of conditions that mean you need to take extra care. If you are in any of these group it is recommended you work closely with your doctor in determining what exercise, if any, you do.

  • Pre term contractions
  • Placenta Previa
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Heart disease
  • Pelvic instability
  • Slow growth rates of baby
  • Twins/triplets etc.

Gentle exercise can be rewarding, social and fun during pregnancy. Walking, swimming and even exercise bikes can be suitable. It can also be beneficial to look at exercise classes specifically designed for expecting mums. As always if in doubt as to what exercise is right for you to not hesitate to discuss this with your doctor during your next visit.

Body Leadership is launching specifically tailored exercise programs for pregnancy in February 2012. For more information about these programs or to book a spot please do not hesitiate to contact us on 07 3847 8040 or info@bodyleadership.com.au.