Considerations for exercise during pregnancy

Considerations for exercise during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of great change within a person’s body, however in a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, exercise can continue to be safe and is generally recommended during most pregnancies.

Guidelines* on exercise during pregnancy recommend regular aerobic and strengthening exercises, assuming that there are no contraindications to exercise.

It is recommended that pregnant people are cleared for exercise by their medical practitioner. Some important considerations when exercising during pregnancy are detailed below.

Avoid overheating

Your growing baby does not have the same ability to dissipate heat as you do.

To avoid overheating:

Type of exercise

Abdominal exercises

During pregnancy, as the baby grows and the abdominal muscles are lengthened, a common result is a widening of the gap in between the two rectus abdominal muscles, which run vertically from the bottom of the ribs to the pubic bone.

This is known as a rectus abdominis diastasis, or simply, diastasis, which is very common and is considered a normal adaptation to pregnancy.

The extent of this widening will be variable, as will the location along the midline, although generally the greatest amount of separation is above the navel.

You may notice a bulge in the abdomen during movements such as getting up out of bed, lifting, or with sudden fast actions such as a cough or sneeze.

This is often referred to as ‘doming,’ and is a midline bulge along the length of the separation.
Assessment for a diastasis will allow for advice on exercise during and after pregnancy.

Pelvic floor muscles

The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles located at the base of the pelvis which have a role in:

Correct pelvic floor muscle activation involves a squeeze and lift around the front and back passages, such as what would be done in stopping the flow of urine or controlling wind.

Also important is the ability for the muscles to be able to relax post-contraction.

Pelvic floor muscle training is important during pregnancy, however a training program should be individualised as some people may require strengthening, whereas others may need to focus on learning how to relax the muscles.

Signs that the pelvic floor muscles might not be working optimally are:

Stop exercising and seek medical advice if you experience any of the following*:


Most people can continue to exercise safely and with benefits throughout their pregnancy.

Appropriate exercises are those which:

* The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (2023) Exercise During Pregnancy