Exercise during pregnancyBMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d5710 (Published 15 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5710
- Kirsten Duckitt, obstetrician and gynaecologist
- 1Campbell River and District General Hospital, Campbell River, BC, Canada, V9W 3V1
With the start of the London 2012 Olympics less than a year away, athletes such as Paula Radcliffe and the Canadian heptathlete, Jessica Zelinka, remind us that it is possible not only to return to world class competition after having a baby but also to continue training—albeit with some modifications—throughout pregnancy. The prevalence of obesity is increasing: in 2007, 24% of women in the United Kingdom aged 16 and over were obese compared with only 16% in 1993. One of the aims of the London 2012 Olympic bid was to encourage the whole population to become more physically active. This should include pregnant women too.
Recognising the beneficial effects of exercise during pregnancy is not new. In 1900, J M Ballantyne, who helped pioneer antenatal care—or as he put it pre-maternity care—in Edinburgh, designed a card to make sure essential advice during pregnancy was remembered and recorded by his pre-maternity nurses. This included a tick box regarding exercise and rest.1 In 1945, the textbook Williams Obstetrics advised …