Pregnancy 101: Exercising during pregnancy

Sunday, March 15, 2020

I am often asked how much exercise you should do during pregnancy. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that adults aged 18-64 (pregnant or otherwise), do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity each week. For best effects, aerobic activity should be done in bouts of at least 10 minutes. Strength training should be performed two or more days a week.

Have you been able to achieve that? I managed it during my first pregnancy but not with my second.

Why should we exercise during pregnancy?

There are many benefits to exercising during pregnancy. These include

  • Maintaining health, fitness and strength – this is useful both during and after pregnancy as being a new mum takes a lot of out of you physically.
  • Maintain healthy body weight – means you'll have less to lose after pregnancy and reduce risk of complications during pregnancy.
  • Prevention and management of issues such as
    • Gestational diabetes
    • Insomnia and anxiety
    • Back and pelvic pain
    • Incontinence
  • Postural awareness and co-ordination as your body changes – keeping active and strong helps you adapt more quickly as your body changes.
  • Improve morale, mood and self-esteem – this applies to exercise at any time, however, pregnancy involves so many more physical and hormonal changes than can affect how you feel about yourself.
  • Improved outcomes for your baby, including better placental growth and higher Apgar scores.
  • Shorter hospital stay and quicker postnatal recovery (and who doesn't want that)!

When shouldn't we exercise during pregnancy?

  • If you are diagnosed with a pregnancy related issue that requires rest
    • Pre-eclampsia
    • incompetent cervix
    • placenta previa
    • early rupture of membranes
    • Intra-uterine growth retardation

Get the all clear to exercise from your health professional (GP, Obstetrician).

When should you stop exercising and seek help?

If you're not sure if a symptom is normal or not – Please ASK! Speak to your Doctor or Women's Health Physiotherapist ASAP if you notice any of these symptoms.

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Excessive shortness of breath, especially BEFORE exercising
  • Chest pain or palpitations
  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Unusually hot and sweaty
  • Sudden joint pain

Exercise is a vital part of maintaining your health during pregnancy. The next blog in this series will discuss how to modify your exercise program when you are pregnant.

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