Is it safe to train/exercise during pregnancy
Safe training during pregnancy
Many women stop exercising during pregnancy which may be for various reasons including the initial tiredness and possible sickness during the first trimester but also women may be scared and worried of causing harm to their baby from exercising. However, research has shown that exercising safely and in moderation benefits the baby and the mother.
The recommendations is for women with a low risk pregnancy to do 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days of the week (Lewis et al, 2008).
Benefits of exercise?
Exercise has many benefits;
- Maintains fitness and Cardiovascular health
- Improves flexibility
- Improves core strength and reduces chances of developing back and pelvic pain
- Decreases chances of developing gestational diabetes
- Improves your pelvic floor strength in supporting your bladder and bowels
- Decreases insomnia/anxiety/low mood
- Improves body image and confidence
- Improves balance, stability and posture
- Improves your fitness for labour
- Facilitates a quicker postnatal recovery
What type of exercise?
This will depend on your previous level of fitness and what type of exercise you were performing prior to your pregnancy. It is important to not start any new activities which the body is otherwise not used to unless it is gentle non- impact aerobic exercise such as swimming, walking, or use of the static exercise bike. Aim to avoid contact sports. If you participate in rugby, football or hockey, I would advise to try to stop these contact games but to continue to maintain CV fitness, strength and conditioning, flexibility and core strength.
Aim to exercise to the level where you can still hold a conversation. Avoid exercising to a high intensity level (exercising above 90% of your ma. oxygen consumption).
I would strongly advise that you listen to your body at all times, and if you feel too out of breath, ease back or if you feel uncomfortable then stop. I continued to run with my pregnancies up to a point of 20 weeks. At that point, I felt that I was twisting awkwardly and straining around my tummy. I therefore decided it was the best time to stop and start walking. However, everyone is different and some people can manage to run full term if they feel comfortable.
Great examples of types of safe exercise include walking, gentle jogging (only if started pre pregnancy), swimming, gentle aqua natal aerobics, cycling on exercise bike, yoga and Pilates.
Exercise is good for you and your baby but go with caution, engage in mild to moderate aerobic, non impact activity and always listen to your body!!
Fitback and bumps 2012
Lewis B, Avery M, Jennings E, Sherwood N, Martinson B, Crain L (2008) The effect of exercise during pregnancy on maternal outcomes: Practical implications for Practice. American Journal Lifestyle Medicine. 2(5):441-455.