Committee Opinion No. 650: Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period. Obstet Gynecol. 2015; 126:(6)e135-42

Baines S, Murphy S. Aquatic Exercise for Pregnancy: a resource book for midwives and health and fitness professionals.Keswick: M&K Publishing; 2010

British Thoracic Society, Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network. British guideline on the management of asthma – a national clinical guideline. 2016. (accessed 9 July 2019)

Chui K, Tudini F, Sheng-Che Y. Exercise, 9th edn. In: Edelman C, Kudzma EC (Eds). St. Louis (MS): Elsevier; 2018

Connolly CP, Conger S, Montoye A Walking for health during pregnancy: A literature review and considerations for future research. J Sport Health Sci. 2018;

Denison FC, Aedia NR, Keag O Care of women with obesity in pregnancy. BJOG. 2019; 126:(3)e62-e106

Department of Health. Start Active, Stay Active: a report on physical activity for health from the four home countries' Chief Medical Officers. 2011a. (accessed 8 July 2019)

Department of Health. Physical activity guidelines for adults (19–64 years). 2011b. (accessed 8 July 2019)

Gordon C. Physical activity in pregnancy: practical advice for women who run. Br J Midwifery. 2019; 27:(4)214-218

Grzeskowiak LE, Grieger JA, Clifton VL. Strategies towards improving pharmacological management of asthma during pregnancy. Pharmacol Res. 2018; 85-92

Hegaard HK, Pedersen BK, Neilsen BB, Damm P. Leisure time physical activity during pregnancy and impact on gestational diabetes mellitus, pre-eclampsia, preterm delivery and birth weight: a review. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2007; 86:(11)1290-6

Running and pregnancy. 2014. (accessed 8 July 2019)

Jahdi F, Sheikhan F, Haghani H Yoga during pregnancy: The effects on labor pain and delivery outcomes (A randomized controlled trial). Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017; 27:1-4

Mudd LM, Owe KM, Mottola MF, Pivarnik JM. Health benefits of physical activity during pregnancy: An international perspective. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013; 45:(2)268-77

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Weight management before, during and after pregnancy. 2010. (accessed 8 July 2019)

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Diabetes in pregnancy: management from preconception to the postnatal period. 2015a. (accessed 8 July 2019)

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Type 1 diabetes in adults: diagnosis and management. 2015b. (accessed 8 July 2019)

Newton ER, May L. Adaptation of maternal-fetal physiology to exercise in pregnancy: the basis of guidelines for physical activity in pregnancy. 2017. Clin Med Insights Womens Health. 2017; 10

NHS. How to improve your strength and flexibility. 2018. (accessed 8 July 2019)

Oktaviani I. Pilates workouts can reduce pain in pregnant women. Complementary Ther Clin Pract. 2018; 31:349-51

Rodríguez-Díaz L, Ruiz-Frutos C, Vázquez-Lara JM Effectiveness of a physical activity programme based on the Pilates method in pregnancy and labour. Enferm Clín. 2017; 27:(5)271-77

Royal College of General Practitioners. parkrun practice initiative. 2018. (accessed 8 July 2019)

Satyapriya M, Nagarathna R, Padmalatha V, Nagendra HR. Effect of integrated yoga on anxiety, depression and well being in normal pregnancy. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013; 19:(4)230-236

Scullion J, Brightling C, Goldie M. Respiratory Disorders, 2nd edn. In: Robson S, Waugh J (eds). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell; 2013

UK Chief Medical Officers. Physical activity in pregnancy infographic: guidance. 2017b. (accessed 8 July 2019)

Uppal E, Manley J, Schofield A. Pilates for pregnancy and beyond: a study. Pract Midwife. 2016; 19:(5)25-27

Walking for Health. Home. 2016. (accessed 8 July 2019)

Warburton D, Bredin S. Reflections on physical activity and health: what should we recommend. Can J Cardiol. 2016; 32:(4)495-504

Westbury B. Measuring the benefits of free pregnancy yoga classes. Br J Midwifery. 2019; 27:(2)100-105

World Health Organization. Global recommendations on physical activity for health. 2010.;jsessionid=D76748DCBADC50773646DDEBF1ECE812?sequence=1 (accessed 8 July 2019)

World Health Organization. Physical activity. 2018. (accessed 8 July 2019)

Exercise and pregnancy: information for practice nurses

02 August 2019
Volume 30 · Issue 8


Practice nurses are equipped to care for patients with long-term conditions such as diabetes, asthma and obesity. Therefore, says Clare Gordon, they are well placed to advise pregnant women on common physical activities they may undertake to maintain health and wellbeing

It has long been recognised that regular physical activity and exercise enhance both physical and psychological wellbeing. The benefits of physical activity throughout the life span of an individual cannot be underestimated and it is no less important when a woman is planning to become, or is, pregnant. The World Health Organization (2010) note that physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and is attributed to 6% of deaths globally. This article explores the guidance for physical activity for the general population and how it then relates to the guidance available for women who are pregnant. This article considers some of the key benefits to a range of common physical activities that pregnant women may undertake. It also explores some of the information that practice nurses should be aware of and how physical activity may impact on several long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and obesity.

Keeping physically fit and active is recognised globally as an effective way in which to prevent many chronic medical conditions (Warburton and Bredin, 2016). Indeed, this is recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) (2018) which states that physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, various cancers including colon and breast cancer, as well as having an impact on an individual's mental health. It also increases bone density, builds muscle strength and increases flexibility (Chui et al, 2018) In addition, the Department of Health (2011a) recognises that being regularly physically active helps to maintain a healthy weight, helps an individual to be able to perform everyday tasks without being impeded and improves self-esteem and mental health. Chui et al (2018) recognised the importance of a holistic approach to physical activity involving both endurance exercise for cardiovascular health; strength and flexibility activities for healthy bone density, and good musculoskeletal health; and body awareness and mindfulness during exercise to aid stress reduction and injury prevention.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting Practice Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for general practice nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month