Exercise during pregnancy provides many benefits to the mother and baby. Fortunately, clinicians and mothers have moved well beyond the view that women should be confined, or cannot initiate activity and be active at any stage of pregnancy. Here are 10 ‘take home messages’ for both clinicians and mums from a recent BMJ podcast with Dr. Browyn Bell.
1. Consider type, frequency and duration; a combination of different types of exercise is important to:
- Reap the different rewards of different types of exercise (pre, during, and post-partum)
- Prepare women for the physical demands of pregnancy and motherhood
- Maintain a healthy bodyweight which decreases likelihood of pregnancy complications
2. There are multiple benefits to exercise during pregnancy such as:
- Prevention of Gestational Diabetes
- Reduction of stress and fatigue
3. Keep core body temperature below 38.5 degrees Celsius (especially in the first trimester)
4. Avoid contact sports, scuba diving, and supine exercises during later pregnancy (listen to the podcast for specifics/details)
5. Consider pre-existing health conditions that may become more pronounced during pregnancy
6. For sedentary pregnant woman who want to start exercising, guidelines are the same as for non-pregnant women (gradual increase in activity)
7. One way to ensure a safe exercise intensity is by maintaining a conversation during exercise
8. Women are encouraged to continue exercise during all stages of pregnancy (even if performance ability is reduced)
9. As always, make healthy food choices
10. Everyone has different (pre-existing and unique) health and physical needs. Common sense activities such as walking are always a good idea. Consult a physician or physiotherapist to develop an individualized approach to exercise.
Artal, R and O’Toole, M. 2003. Guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Br J Sports Med 2003;37:6-12 . (FREE ONLINE!)
Ruben Barakat, R, Cordero Y, and CoteronJ et al. 2011. Exercise during pregnancy improves maternal glucose screen at 24–28 weeks: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 26 September 2011.