Women's Health
Physical Activity and Pregnancy

​​Overview:

Physiological changes occur during pregnancy, owing to the pregnancy-associated hormonal changes. Therefore, contrary to the common belief that women should stop exercising during pregnancy, a pregnant woman should exercise, and seek the doctor’s advice to determine the recommended type of exercise. The type and intensity of physical activity varies depending on the pregnancy status, as follows:

​​Before pregnancy
During pregnancy
Exercising as a daily routine.
Exercising should continue.
Doing a specific type of physical activity.
That physical activity should continue through to an advanced stage of pregnancy.
No exercise at all.
The pregnant woman should start to do mild exercise (e.g. walking).

Why is exercise important during pregnancy?
Because exercise:
  • Prepares the body for delivery and makes it easier;
  • Maintains the fitness safely;
  • Strengthens the abdominal muscles to support the uterus when it grows larger;
  • Increases self-confidence, and reduces the risk of depression and anxiety;
  • Helps the pregnant woman avoid some pregnancy-associated symptoms (e.g. back pain and constipation); 
  • Helps to sleep better;
  • Helps retain normal weight after delivery;
  • Helps adapt to the physical and mental requirements, to reduce strain of joints and muscles;
  • Reduce the pressure on the pelvis;
  • Improve the blood circulation in the legs.

Recommended physical activities during pregnancy:
The best exercises to do during pregnancy are those that help improve the blood circulation, maintain flexibility, and reduce the pregnancy-associated weight-gain, as well as preparing the muscles for conception and delivery, without incurring the mother or the baby unnecessary exhaustion. Those exercises include: 
  1. Walking: Walking (whether slow or jogging) is recommended as a safe exercise for pregnant women throughout the pregnancy period. It can be performed daily. But a sufficient rest should be taken on feeling tired.
  2. Swimming: Swimming is one of the best exercises to do during pregnancy. It is useful for the heart, lungs and limbs (arms and legs), as well as the pelvis. Water helps feel light, weightless and relaxed, as well as reducing foot-swelling.
  3. Yoga and stretches: Yoga exercises and stretches help clear the mind, and alleviate stress and anxiety. Besides, they help strengthen the muscles, and increase their firmness without affecting the joints. Moreover, they are useful for increasing the body flexibility. Therefore, Yoga classes oriented to pregnant women are advisable.
  4. Pilates: Pilates is a physical fitness system that involves the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, through certain exercises. It helps relax and organize breathing. Pilates exercises are useful during pregnancy and after delivery, since they target the muscles that may become weaker during pregnancy. So, instead exerting more pressure on such muscles, those exercises actually alleviate such pressure. They help relax and organize breathing during delivery.
  5. Weightlifting: There is no reason to stop weightlifting exercises during pregnancy, if it used to be a routine in the pre-pregnancy period. Heavy weights should be avoided, though, and the proper precautions should be taken. In addition, the intensity of exercises should be reduced regularly as the pregnancy progresses, and intense exercises should be avoided to evade heat exhaustion.

Jumping, leaping, twisting and abrupt movements are advised against during pregnancy.


Physical activity requirements:
Comfortable shoes, an appropriate training suit, and a place proper for exercising. 

Physical activities pregnant women are discouraged from:
  • Activities that make the pregnant woman prone to falling (e.g. skiing and horse-riding);
  • Activities that make the pregnant woman prone to hitting (e.g. fighting sports and boxing);
  • High-intensity exercises that excessively increase the heart rate;
  • Diving: since breath-holding affects the fetus;
  • Jogging: to avoid loss of balance and sprains;
  • Mountaineering: due to the low level of oxygen at high altitudes;
  • Tennis: since it may be too intense for a pregnant woman.

Cases in which exercising is not recommended:
  • Twin pregnancy
  • Hypertension-related problems
  • Prior miscarriage  
  • Pregnancy bleeding
  • Prior preterm births
  • Severe anemia
  • Any health problem the doctor thinks exercise will worsen.

General health guidelines for pregnant women to follow when exercising:
  • Heat up before exercising;
  • Walk for half an hour (or more) daily;
  • Avoid exercising in hot weather;
  • Drink large quantities of water (and other beverages);
  • Organize breathing, to avoid breath-holding and hence fetal oxygen deficiency;
  • Avoid exercises that require lying on the back, especially after the 4th month of pregnancy—by and large, lying on the left side is advisable.


Clinical Education General Department
For inquiries, contact us by 
this email.​



Content Evaluation
Reading times
Last Update 23 December 2019 08:31 AM
Do you find this content useful? Yes No Suggest
Satisfaction of visitorsA sign of happiness
Satisfaction of visitors Completely satisfied Satisfied Neutral Not Satisfied Completely dissatisfied
This site can be viewed on all screen tones and all smart devices and supports all kinds of browsers
All Rights Reserved – Ministry of Health – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ©