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Exercise and pregnancy in recreational and elite athletes: 2016 evidence summary from the IOC expert group meeting, Lausanne. Part 1—exercise in women planning pregnancy and those who are pregnant
  1. Kari Bø1,
  2. Raul Artal2,
  3. Ruben Barakat3,
  4. Wendy Brown4,
  5. Gregory A L Davies5,
  6. Michael Dooley6,
  7. Kelly R Evenson7,8,
  8. Lene A H Haakstad9,
  9. Karin Henriksson-Larsen10,
  10. Bengt Kayser11,
  11. Tarja I Kinnunen12,13,
  12. Michelle F Mottola14,
  13. Ingrid Nygaard15,
  14. Mireille van Poppel16,
  15. Britt Stuge17,
  16. Karim M Khan18
  1. 1Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Women's Health, Saint Louis University, St Louis, Missouri, USA
  3. 3Facultad de Ciencias de la Actividad Física y del Deporte—INEF, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  4. 4Centre for Research on Exercise, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia
  5. 5Department of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  6. 6The Poundbury Clinic Dorchester—The Poundbury Suite, King Edward VII Hospital London, London, UK
  7. 7University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  8. 8Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  9. 9Department of Sport Sciences, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  10. 10The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden
  11. 11Faculty of Biology and Medicine, Institute of Sports Science, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
  12. 12University Lecturer, School of Health Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
  13. 13Department of Children, Young People and Families, The National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
  14. 14R Samuel McLaughlin Foundation—Exercise and Pregnancy Lab, The University of Western Ontario London, London, Ontario, Canada
  15. 15Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  16. 16Institute of Sport Science, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
  17. 17Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, Oslo, Norway
  18. 18Department of Family Practice & Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Professor Kari Bø, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo 0806, Norway;{at}

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Guidelines on physical activity or exercise and pregnancy encourage pregnant women to continue or adopt an active lifestyle during and following pregnancy.1–3 Two systematic reviews of pregnancy-related guidelines on physical activity found similarities between recommendations from different countries, but noted that the guidelines differed in focus.4 ,5 The guidelines provided variable guidance on prenatal exercise, or on how pregnant women might approach continuing or adopting sport activities.6 However, most guidelines did not include important topics such as prevalence and known risk factors for common pregnancy-related diseases and complaints, and the role of exercise in preventing and treating them.

Importantly, the focus of most previous guidelines has been on healthy pregnant women in the general population, in whom there is almost always a decline in physical activity during pregnancy.7 ,8 Indeed, a high proportion of pregnant women follow neither physical activity nor exercise guidelines,9 putting them at increased risk of obesity, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), and other pregnancy-related diseases and complaints.1

On the other hand, there are enthusiastic exercisers and elite athletes who often meet and exceed general exercise recommendations for pregnant women, but there are no exercise guidelines specifically for these women. Important questions for such women are unanswered in current guidelines: Which activities, exercises and sports can they perform, for how long and at what intensity, without risking their own health and the health of the fetus? How soon can they return to high-intensity training and competition after childbirth?

The IOC and most National Sports Federations encourage women to participate in all Olympic sport disciplines. The IOC promotes high-level performance, and it is also strongly committed to promoting lifelong health among athletes10—not just during their competitive sporting careers. With an increasing number of elite female athletes competing well into …

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