Good news for pregnant exercise enthusiasts: Vigorous exercise, even in the third trimester, is safe for healthy pregnant women, according to a study reported in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth (2019; 19 [1], 281).

Lead study author Kassia Beetham, PhD, exercise physiology lecturer at Australian Catholic University, wrote, “We collated all studies looking at mothers exercising at a vigorous intensity during the third trimester, to understand how safe this was for mothers and babies. Our review included 15 studies totaling 32,703 pregnant women.

“What we found should be reassuring for active women with healthy pregnancies. . . . The studies looked at a range of outcomes for both mum and baby, and none showed any meaningful increase in risk.”

Findings showed no difference in baby birth weight, no difference in number of babies born small, a slightly lower chance of premature birth and a few extra days of gestation.

The study authors cautioned that vigorous intensity did not mean high impact, nor did it mean going above 90% of maximum heart rate. Working with a fitness professional is recommended.