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Exercise during pregnancy.

04/03/2010

A good friend of mine just got herself pregnant again (congratulations Sarah!).  So I thought I would quickly go over some recommendations for her and others in her predicament 😉

So why should women continue their exercise throughout pregnancy?  The best reason I can think of is that it makes for an easier, more comfortable 9 months.

Pregnant Woman

Pregnancy

A study in San Fransisco asked 400 women to record their activity levels and various pregnancy related physical discomforts (eg nausea, heartburn, leg cramps).  Those who continued their higher levels of exercise reported fewer symptoms than their more sedentary colleagues.

According to the NHS and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, some other benefits may include:

  • Help boost your energy levels and immune systems.
  • Improve strength and stamina to cope with the weight gains during pregnancy (on average, a 2 stone increase in weight).
  • Reduce constipation, tiredness and circulation problems.
  • Relieve lower back pain and reduce varicose veins and swelling of the feet and ankles.
  • Easier to regain pre-pregnacy fitness levels.
  • Improves your mood and sense of wellbeing.
  • Reduces risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (diabetes that develops during pregnancy) and hypertension (high blood pressure).

One final reason I like, is that if you can develop/maintain good habits of exercise, your kid is much more likely to learn and copy these from you, improving their chances in life.

Because your body is changing a lot, some potential risks you need to be aware of include:

  • Overheating – if your core temperature rises above 39 degrees (normal body temp is 37 degrees), there is an increased risk to the baby.  So make sure you have plenty of fluids on hand to drink, and avoid saunas/steamrooms etc.
  • Laying on your back – when you are in this position, the unborn baby can squash some of your important blood vessels.  This can lead to your blood pressure reducing and dizzy spells.
  • Loose joints – be careful not to over extend any of your joints.
  • Balance – the shift in your centre of gravity can mean your balance is impaired.

Here are some guidelines for exercise during pregnancy:

  • Goals – Maintain a fit and healthy body (but not to reach peak fitness).  Maximise the usual benefits and minimise the usual risks involved with exercise at every other time of your life.  Improve your psychological profile (ie put you in a better mood).
  • Types of aerobic exercise – Low or non impact.  eg walking, cycling (be aware of comfort and balance issues), rowing (be aware of comfort issues), swimming (try different strokes for comfort and avoid overly hot pools), aqua classes etc.
  • Types of resistance exercise – No specific recommendations at present.  Just be aware that your joints will loosen during pregnancy, but properly done weight training should avoid problems here.
  • How often – 2-3 days per week.
  • For how long – 15-30 minutes per session (maybe longer if you have a good exercise background).
  • How hard/intense – Low.  Make sure you can still hold a conversation while exercising (the “Talk Test”).

References for the above include the:

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

NHS

The Wright Foundation

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 04/03/2010 4:28 pm

    Thanks for the article. I just wondered if anyone would be able to give me some advice on how many reps and sets is recommended for resistance exercise? I want to make sure I don’t over do it!

    • 05/03/2010 9:58 am

      Thanks for the comment!

      For my advice about sets and reps, take a look at my latest post at:
      https://cerin.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/exersice-during-pregnancy-update/

      Hope it makes sense and helps a bit.

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