Public health guidelines for physical activity during pregnancy from around the world: a scoping review

Melanie Hayman, Wendy J Brown, Alison Brinson, Emily Budzynski-Seymour, Tracy Bruce, Kelly R. Evenson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background and objective: Despite the known health benefits of physical activity (PA), pregnancy is a time of marked decline in PA levels. To provide women with reliable and trustworthy information, and to encourage greater participation in PA during pregnancy, many governments have developed guidelines for PA during pregnancy. Our aim was to synthesise the most recent public health guidelines on PA during pregnancy from different countries in order to understand the nature and extent of advice that is available.

Design: Scoping review.

Data sources: Search of the grey literature, direct contact with international experts, screening of relevant academic literature and citation searching.

Eligibility criteria Public health guidelines developed or endorsed by government departments published since 2010.

Results: Our search located 30 eligible guidelines, published in 11 different languages. There is remarkable concordance in the advice offered. For women with uncomplicated pregnancy, guidelines recommend: 150–300 min/week of moderate intensity aerobic activity; pelvic floor and muscle strengthening exercises; modification of some exercises (eg, supine position); and provide lists of warning signs to cease activity (eg, persistent dizziness, vaginal bleeding) and activities that should be avoided (eg, if high risk of falling/collision). Few guidelines offer specific advice for highly active women (eg, athletes), or trimester-specific or culturally specific considerations.

Conclusions: This review provides a summary of public health recommendations for PA during pregnancy around the world. The challenge is now to ensure that all who provide healthcare for women understand the guidelines and encourage safe participation in PA during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)940-947
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


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