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Public health guidelines for physical activity during pregnancy from around the world: a scoping review
  1. Melanie Hayman1,
  2. Wendy J Brown2,
  3. Alison Brinson3,
  4. Emily Budzynski-Seymour4,
  5. Tracy Bruce5,
  6. Kelly R Evenson6
  1. 1 School of Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2 School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, The University of Queensland, Saint Lucia, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3 Anthropology, University of North Carolina College of Arts and Sciences, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  4. 4 Solent University, Southampton, UK
  5. 5 The University of Queensland, Saint Lucia, Queensland, Australia
  6. 6 Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Melanie Hayman, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, QLD 4701, Australia; m.j.hayman{at}


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.

  • Physical activity
  • Exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Public health
  • Review

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  • Contributors All authors meet requirements for authorship. Specifically, MH, WJB, TB and KRE developed the search approach, MH, WJB and KRE performed the literature search and selected articles for review, MH, AN, EB-S and KRE extracted data. All authors drafted the review, critically reviewed and revised the work and approved the final manuscript as submitted, agreeing to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.