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Guidelines for Exercise during Pregnancy

Exercise is an important aspect of pregnancy and the research and consensus around exercise has changed a lot in the recent years with the benefits of exercise becoming much more apparent. 

Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercise before, during and after pregnancy. Physical activity in pregnancy has minimal risks and has been shown to benefit most women, although some modifications to exercise routines may be needed. Regular physical activity during pregnancy improves or maintains physical fitness, helps with weight management, reduces the risk of gestational diabetes in obese women, and enhances psychologic well-being.

Exercise is now acknowledged as an effective way to decrease insulin resistance and thus help control blood glucose levels. Current research demonstrates that if diagnosed with gestational diabetes, women have a 66% increased risk of developing this again in subsequent pregnancies. For exercise to be preventative it needs to begin prior to pregnancy or within the first trimester, and exercise can obviate the need for insulin in those with gestational diabetes. 

Moderate intensity exercise for 20-30 minutes per day which leads to the eventual goal of 150 minutes per week is preferred. Monitored exercise should be prescribed to those with a high BMI, and those with relative contraindications. Clinical assessment should be conducted before recommending an exercise program to ensure that a women does not have a medical reason to avoid exercise and to ensure appropriate considerations are taken when prescribing and performing exercise. 

Different forms of exercise that are safe during pregnancy include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Stationary cycling
  • Low impact aerobics
  • Modified yoga
  • Modified pilates
  • Running or jogging
  • Racquet sports
  • Strength training 

Physical exercise women should avoid during pregnancy include:

  • Contact sports
  • Activities with a high risk of falling – water skiing, gymnastics etc. 
  • Scuba diving
  • Sky diving 

Laura Watt - Physiotherapist

If you are trying for a baby, pregnant or currently have bub in your arms, our experiences Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists can help keep you in the best of health during this time of extreme hormonal changes. Click the button below to book an appointment today!

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