12 April, 2024

Although not everyone will experience what it’s like to be pregnant, all of us will feel its impact. This comes in the form of being a carrier of an unborn child or as the unborn child ourselves. Despite what you may have heard, safely exercising during pregnancy is one of the best things that you can do for your health. Its effects have even been known to improve the health outcome of the unborn child later in life.

It’s a topic that fitness expert Jane Wake has championed for the better part of two decades. This can be seen in her critically acclaimed book  ‘The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy Fitness’ and The Powerful Pregnancy – an online resource, approved by Sport England’s ‘This Mum Moves’ campaign in the UK and ‘Expect Fitness’ in the USA.

Jane sat down with Breast Cancer UK to discuss the benefits of exercising during pregnancy and its impact on reducing the risk of breast cancer and other diseases.

‘It’s a physical endurance event’

“Research tells us that pregnancy is far more of a physical endurance event than any ultra marathon or Iron Man challenge. Our bodies do amazing things to prepare for this, and exercise can help to further elevate this preparation.

“Exercise and pregnancy have traditionally always been positioned as polar opposites to one another. Much of this thinking came from the belief that exercising would take away nutrients from the baby, but the body is far too smart for that.

“A lot of people don’t know that you can grow your muscles by exercising during pregnancy. Exercising during this period can lead to incredible outcomes for the mother and her baby, even into adulthood. This includes reducing their risk of breast cancer and many other diseases.

‘Pregnancy is overlooked when it comes to prevention’

“We go through so many different life stages as women and most of us don’t see the connection between them, especially when you get to my age. But puberty, pregnancy, and menopause are all connected. The stimuli that we expose ourselves to during periods of hormonal changes directly contribute to health outcomes in later life.

“I think that pregnancy is the most overlooked life stage, but arguably most vital when it comes to disease prevention. I’m always reaching out to different organisations to tell them about how pregnancy can lead to long-lasting lifestyle changes.

“Pregnancy is the point at which women are in contact with healthcare givers more than at any other point in their lives. It presents a magic opportunity to get women moving regularly and empower them with knowledge on prevention.’

‘Don’t limit yourself!’

“Pregnancy has been packaged as a time in our lives when we can’t do this and shouldn’t do that, but that’s simply not the case. It doesn’t have to be a life stage where you limit yourself. Nowadays, there are spin classes, yoga sessions, and even water-based activities specifically for pregnant women.

“For pregnant women who are unsure about taking up exercise, it’s important to know that exercising during pregnancy doesn’t generally pose a high risk to you or your baby. However, you do extra need to be conscious of environmental factors, such as trip hazards, wet surfaces, and heavy contact.

“Exercising whilst pregnant isn’t a no – it’s an absolute go!”

Note: Please make sure that you get the consent of your GP to exercise while pregnant. In some cases, there are underlying conditions that may exacerbated by exercising during pregnancy.


If you want to find out more about reducing your breast cancer risk during pregnancy, check out our brand-new life stages resources! Additionally, if Jane inspired you to take up exercise during your pregnancy head over to her website for more tips. 

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