Physical activity throughout pregnancy enhances physical and mental health and reduces risk of pregnancy complications

Physical activity is a critical component of achieving a healthy pregnancy according to a new evidence-based pregnancy & physical activity guideline, co-led by Western University professor Michelle Mottola and launched jointly by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP). Following the guideline can reduce the risk of pregnancy-related illness such as depression by at least 25 percent, and the risk of developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and preeclampsia by 40 percent.

“By examining and reviewing more than 25,000 previous studies we were able to develop guidelines that outline the right amount of physical activity women should get throughout pregnancy to promote maternal, fetal and neonatal health,” says Michelle Mottola, guideline co-lead author and professor of Kinesiology at Western University. “The evidence clearly shows that being physically active throughout pregnancy is safe, and has health benefits for both mother and baby.”

To achieve clinically meaningful health benefits, the guideline encourages pregnant women without any medical restriction to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week over a minimum of three days per week. For greater benefits being active every day and incorporating a variety of aerobic and resistance training activities is encouraged. The 150 minutes of activity can include walking, swimming, stationary cycling, and resistance training.

“These findings mark a shift in our thinking regarding physical activity during pregnancy,” says Mottola. “We have moved from looking it as a recommended behaviour to it being a critical component of achieving a healthy pregnancy.”

To download a copy of the complete 2019 Guideline for Physical Activity throughout Pregnancy visit

More information about the guidelines and the background research can be accessed here.

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