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Introduction

Exercise or a physically active lifestyle is known to be good for one's general health. This is still true during pregnancy. However, there may be certain considerations because of the special nature of pregnancy: questions as to the type of exercise, extent of physical exertion, what is safe and what is not.


As a general rule, a pregnant woman should be encouraged to be physically active, which does not necessarily mean a formal exercise regime. A regular walk, a swim and using the stairs at work instead of a lift may do just as well.


For those who engage in sport, pregnancy does not neces­sarily mean having to give up, unless it is a contact sport (such as boxing or wrestling) where there is a theoretical risk of injury that may imperil the pregnancy. Most amateur and professional sportswomen engage in non-contact sport,, and most of these are quite compatible with pregnancy.


In fact, even those engaged in competitive sports can still carry on, especially if this falls in the early part of the pregnancy. Exercise and sport have several benefits for a participating pregnant woman, as we have detailed below. There are those who, by virtue of pre­existing medical conditions, may be unable to engage in active physical exercises. These are very much in the minority and specific advice regarding this is usually given.














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Lindsay Davenport and son

World-class sportswomen like Lindsay Davenport (above) and Paula Radcliffe (below) took time off from their sports to have a baby and went right back on top of their respective sports

Paula Radcliffe

27. Sports and exercise in pregnancy

Benefits Unsafe exercises Effect on labour Specific sports Post-delivery

By Dr Joe Kabyemela, MD