January 15, 2018
Are you afraid of starting or continuing to exercise while pregnant? You’re not alone! A lot of women feel that once they get pregnant, exercising might pose a risk to their unborn child. Women tend to decrease their physical activity levels from the second to third trimester, and only a small proportion reach the recommended level of activity during pregnancy.
In reality, exercise during pregnancy has minimal risks and has actually been shown to be beneficial for most women. It maintains physical fitness, helps with weight management, reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure) and overall improves psychological well-being. However, all pregnant women should consult with their physician before commencing an exercise program.
For uncomplicated pregnancies, women should strive to achieve the same amount of exercise that is recommended for all healthy adults. That is, 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise on most days (5/7) of the week. However, it is always recommended to start slowly before building up to this amount and intensity. Pregnant women shouldn’t overexert themselves or try to reach peak fitness levels. Examples of safe exercises include brisk walking, jogging and cycling.
Strength training is also recommended and may even combat some of the pains of pregnancy. For example strengthening the abdominal muscles might help with pregnancy related low back pain. Certain modifications might be necessary to exercises done previously so consult your physiotherapist. Resistance training programs should be modified to include more repetitions at a lower weight and take longer breaks than normal between sets.
As previously stated, exercising is generally recommended and very safe when taking appropriate measures while pregnant. However, I cannot stress the important of getting medical approval prior to starting, as there are some pregnancy related conditions that will contraindicate exercise, such as persistent bleeding, ruptured membranes or severe anaemia. If in doubt talk to your doctor!