Can pregnant women participate in physical activity?

Updated on: Dec 8, 2020

Yes, science shows that there is no risk inperforming physical activity during pregnancy if no health-related problems exist. It is recommended that all pregnant woman with no contraindications engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity each week, spread over at least 3 days 

The benefits of physical activity for pregnant women 

Moderate-intensity physical activity during pregnancy is beneficial for the physical and psychological health of both the mother and her developing baby: 

  • For the mother: 
    • Reduction in the risk of pregnancy-related complications (i.e., gestational diabetes, hypertension and preeclampsia);  
    • Management of weight gain during pregnancy;  
    • Improvement of blood sugar levels; 
    • Increase in energy levels; 
    • Improvement in sleep quality; 
    • Stress reduction; 
    • Reduction in certain pregnancy-related discomforts (constipation, back pain and swelling); 
    • Reduction in the risk of caesarian section and complications during delivery; 
    • Reduction in the risk of bladder weakness.  
  • For the baby:  
    • Reduction in the risk of complications such as macrosomia (baby > 4-4.5 kg) or delivering a baby that is large for gestational age (above the 90th percentile).  

Risks of physical activity for pregnant women 

Physical activity does not pose a risk to either the pregnant women or the developing baby unless contraindications exist. Physical activity during pregnancy is not associated with miscarriage, premature delivery, low birth weight or any other complications throughout gestation or delivery.  

However, for women with medical contraindications (i.e., preeclampsia, growth retardation, membrane ruptures, etc.), it is recommended that they consult their doctors before engaging in physical activity. In some cases, physical activity may be prohibited, but normal, every-day activities can be maintained (cleaning, grocery shopping, walking, etc.).  

Where to begin?

It is recommended that pregnant women who are not already physically active begin to gradually introduce physical activity into their daily routine. This can be as simple as taking a walk, playing in the park with the kids, etc.  

It is recommended to alternate between muscular and aerobic (or cardiovascular) exercises in order to get the greatest benefits. 


Active pour la vie. (2019). KINO Québec.

Artal R. (2020). Exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. UpToDate.

Dietitians of Canada. (2018). Édition 2019 des Directives canadiennes en matière d’activité physique pendant la grossesse. Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition [PEN].

Mottola, M. F., Davenport, M. H., Ruchat, S. M., Davies, G. A., Poitras, V., Gray, C., Jaramillo Garcia, A., Barrowman, N., Adamo, K. B., Duggan, M., Barakat, R., Chilibeck, P., Fleming, K., Forte, M., Korolnek, J., Nagpal, T., Slater, L., Stirling, D., & Zehr, L. (2018). N° 367-2019 Lignes Directrices Canadiennes Sur L'activité Physique Durant La Grossesse. JOGC, 40(11), 1538–1548.



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