Exercise Recommendations During Pregnancy!

Exercise Recommendations During Pregnancy!

Article by Nadine Stewart

Can I Exercise During Pregnancy?

Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

Exercise is widely considered to be very beneficial during pregnancy for both expectant mothers and their growing baby/s, however, there are a number of factors that need to be considered to make sure that exercise is safe for you based on your individual situation.

These factors can include your: 

  • unique experience of pregnancy, 
  • general health, 
  • exercise goals.

Based on these factors you may need to obtain clearance from your health care professional (GP, obstetrician, midwife, physiotherapist and/or exercise physiologist) to exercise safely during your pregnancy.

What are the recommendations for exercise during pregnancy?

There are a number of elements to consider to enable safe exercise during pregnancy and these can include:

  • Amount of Exercise:
    • 20-30 mins all or most days of the week.
  • Intensity:
    • Moderate Intensity – you should be able to talk comfortably while exercising, but not sing.
  • Body temperature:
    • Keep your body temperature from rising too high –  you can sweat, but should not be soaked in sweat.
  • Type of Exercise:
    • Aerobic and light strength exercises with a low risk of trauma.
  • General Safety:  
    • Let your body be your guide, if something does not feel right it may not be suitable for your individual situation. Follow up with your health professional if uncertain.

What Kinds of Exercises are Safe During Pregnancy?

Aerobic and strength exercises with a low risk of trauma are considered to be safe exercises for pregnancy and can include:

  • Pregnancy specific exercise classes.
  • Aerobic low impact activities such as walking, swimming, elliptical trainer and stationary cycling.
  • Low impact strength activities such as Pilates, yoga and aqua aerobics.
  • Lightweights. 
  • Pelvic floor exercises.

Are there any types of exercise that I should avoid during pregnancy?

There are a number of exercises that are considered unsafe during pregnancy and should be avoided, and these can include:

  • Exercises with a high risk of trauma or falling, such as mountain bike riding, horse riding and contact sports.
  • Exercises that may involve solid projectile equipment, such as cricket or hockey.
  • Exercises that are performed in hot environments, such as hot yoga.
  • Exercises that involve changes in pressure, such as scuba diving.

It is also important to realise that the characteristics of some exercises including the type, position, loading, intensity or duration of an exercise, may need to be modified as your pregnancy progresses based on how you are feeling. Please talk to your physiotherapist or exercise physiologist about the safe changes to exercise that may need to occur for you as your pregnancy progresses.

What about jogging? Is jogging a safe exercise for pregnancy?

Jogging is generally considered a safe exercise during pregnancy if:

  • You are healthy and have no medical conditions that prevent you from jogging.
  • You have no exercise limitations based on your individual pregnancy experience.
  • You have no musculoskeletal pain such as the back, pelvic, hip, knee or ankle pain.
  • You are experiencing no incontinence (involuntary leakage of urine or poo).
  • You were jogging prior to falling pregnant and already have the necessary strength and conditioning for jogging. If you were not jogging prior to falling pregnant, it is better not to start jogging after falling pregnant and instead perform low impact activities such as walking instead.
  • You have no other symptoms (listed below) that may limit your ability to engage in jogging during your pregnancy.

Note: You may find that due to the physical changes that occur during pregnancy, you may have to reduce your jogging pace, distance or time. Also, you may need to discuss with your health care professional whether jogging is a safe form of exercise for you during your pregnancy based on your individual situation.

Are there any other symptoms that I should look out for while exercising during pregnancy?

There are a number of symptoms that you should look out for during pregnancy when engaging in exercise. If these symptoms occur, it is recommended that you stop exercising immediately and follow up with your health care professional before recommencing exercise. These symptoms can include:

  • Musculoskeletal pain (abdominal, back, pelvic, hip, knee or ankle pain)
  • Incontinence (involuntary leakage of urine or poo)
  • Severe morning sickness/hyperemesis gravidarum
  • Excessive shortness of breath before commencing exercise
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Calf pain and swelling
  • Amniotic fluid leakage
  • Change in the movement of your baby
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Regular painful contractions
  • Any pre-existing medical condition

Where can I go to get more information about what exercises are suitable for me during pregnancy?

As the health needs and pregnancy journey of every mother are different, please discuss safe exercise during pregnancy for your individual circumstances with your health care professional (GP, obstetrician, midwife, physiotherapist and/or exercise physiologist) who has an interest or additional training in pregnancy.

For more information, check out Pregnancy Back Pain or contact your physiotherapist.

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