Physical Activity & Exercise

There are no specific physical activity or exercise guidelines for asthma in pregnancy, however, it is recommended, safe and beneficial that healthy pregnant women and people with asthma aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week and break-up long periods of time spent being sedentary e.g. sitting (Aust. Dept. Health 2021, WHO 2020). Being active not only has many overall health benefits but there are also pregnancy related and asthma related benefits.

Pregnancy and asthma related benefits of physical activity and exercise

If prescribing exercise to this group, it is important to know if there are any risks of an adverse event occurring as a result of participating in exercise. This can be done by performing a pre-exercise screening to identify any contraindications to exercise. Pre-exercise screening tools are available from the Exercise and Sport Science Australia website.

Some specific physical activity and exercise safety precautions that should be considered for this group includes:

  1. Identify any underlying medical conditions or pregnancy complications that might be a contraindication to exercise.
  2. Consider types of activities that do not put the individual at risk of falling or over-straining, results in pain or discomfort or causes changes in pressure.
  3. Avoid certain weather conditions that might create an unsafe environment for physical activity such as hot weather and high humidity and conditions that might trigger asthma symptoms such as high pollen count and air pollution.
  4. Establish an ideal physical activity intensity that does not induce asthma symptoms or cause discomfort or pain. For individuals with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction it is recommended that a short acting bronchodilator is administered 15 minutes before commencing exercise.
  5. Determine if asthma is being optimally managed. If asthma is severe, uncontrolled, or not being managed this should be discussed with the primary health care provider or specialist.