Regular physical activity provides many benefits for the health and wellbeing of women during pregnancy, including fitness, weight management and psychological wellbeing. For a healthy woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy, physical activity is considered safe for both her and her unborn child. This report looks at the types and amount of physical activity undertaken by women during pregnancy using the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Australian Health Survey 2011–12. It compares activity levels for pregnant and non-pregnant women of the same ages and assesses these levels against the Australian physical activity guideline for adults.
Only 3 in 10 pregnant women met the physical activity guideline
When assessed against the Australian physical activity guideline for adults, 30% of pregnant women were sufficiently active, 54% were insufficiently active and 16% were inactive.
In comparison, just under half (47%) of women in the same age group who were not pregnant met the physical activity guideline for sufficient activity.
Two-thirds of pregnant women were active for fewer than 150 minutes per week
The median length of time spent on physical activity in the last week by pregnant women was 90 minutes. This was much lower than the average (mean) time of 151 minutes due to skewness caused by a small proportion of very active pregnant women.
The average of 151 minutes for pregnant women was made up of just under an hour (54 minutes) of walking for fitness, 73 minutes of walking for transport and 24 minutes on moderate and vigorous activities.
In comparison, the median length of time spent on physical activity in the last week for women who were not pregnant was 149 minutes and the average (mean) was nearly 4 hours (224 minutes). These women spent a similar amount of time walking for fitness and transport, with an extra 50 minutes on moderate and vigorous activities.