Australian exercise, sport and fitness organisations support development of latest pre-exercise screening tool for physical activity/exercise during pregnancy

10 May 2021

Australian organisations Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA), Sports Medicine Australia (SMA), and Fitness Australia are proud to support the recently launched screening tool, ‘Screening Tool for Physical Activity/Exercise During Pregnancy’.

“This screening tool is evidence-based and aligns with the newly released Australian Department of Health physical activity during pregnancy guidelines. It is designed to be used by pregnant women themselves, or by health professionals to support conversations about physical activity during pregnancy,” explains Dr Melanie Hayman from Central Queensland University who led the development of the screening tool.

The screening tool acknowledges that doing any physical activity is better than doing nothing whilst pregnant. If you are a pregnant woman who is currently undertaking no physical activity, then you should start slowly and progress towards meeting the guidelines, however, expert help is always available if needed.

“It’s important that pregnant women discuss their physical activity/exercise behaviours with an appropriately qualified health professional, such as an Accredited Exercise Scientist or Accredited Exercise Physiologist, as this tool does not replace medical advice,” adds Anita Hobson-Powell, ESSA Chief Executive Officer.

“Where it is safe to, health professionals should encourage physical activity/exercise in accordance with the new Australian Physical Activity Guidelines for Pregnant women (recently released and led by Professor Wendy Brown of University of Queensland), with the key messages being, ‘Move more – Sit less – Be active during pregnancy!’”

The screening tool also covers how much physical activity a pregnant woman should undertake, what sort of activities they should or shouldn’t do, as well what intensity of exercise should be completed. The tool provides reasons to stop exercising and when a health care professional should be consulted, as well as additional safety precautions and what to avoid to keep both the mum and bub safe.

Health professionals should use this new screening tool for pregnant women in conjunction with the Adult Pre-Exercise Screening System if the client is receiving an exercise prescription rather than physical activity advice.

You can find the pregnancy screening tool on the ESSA website here.

To read through the newly released Department of Health physical activity during pregnancy guidelines and other relevant resources, click here.