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Physical activity and pregnancy: time for guidance in the UK
  1. Hamish Reid1⇑,
  2. Ralph Smith1,
  3. Catherine Calderwood2,
  4. Charlie Foster1,3
  1. 1 Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, UK
  2. 2 Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3 Chair of CMO Physical Activity Expert Committee, Physical Activity and Pregnancy Study Working Group, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hamish Reid, Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7LF, UK; hamish.reid{at}

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Regular physical activity during pregnancy has a positive impact on pregnancy outcomes and fetomaternal health.1–3 Pregnancy also offers the chance to increase physical activity and sustain this healthy behaviour beyond childbirth. Health behaviours established during childhood can last across the life course, so physical activity interventions during pregnancy may provide a powerful opportunity for population change.4

National recommendations

Despite these benefits, national recommendations do not exist in the UK for physical activity during pregnancy. In their 2011 physical activity recommendations, the UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) emphasised the importance of achieving an active lifestyle across the life course, producing guidelines for four categories: the under 5s, children and young people, adults, and older adults. Pregnancy, however, was omitted from their reviews of evidence and no specific physical activity recommendations exist for this group of women. This omission is to the detriment of antenatal care as recommendations provide an important benchmark …

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