Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy: A Guide for Expecting Mothers

Historically, we have always questioned whether exercise, and what form of exercise is safe during pregnancy.  However, new research coming out now is changing this narrative.  Rather than asking if exercise is safe, we need to highlight the numerous benefits that exercise can have for both the mother and the baby.  

Here are Some of the Key Benefits:

  1. Maintains a healthy weight: Exercise can help expecting mothers maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of obesity, gestational diabetes, and other pregnancy-related conditions.
  2. Improves mood: Regular exercise can help boost endorphins and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
  3. Supports the pelvic floor: Exercise can help strengthen the pelvic floor, which supports the baby and reduces the risk of incontinence and other pelvic floor issues.
  4. Prepares for labor: Regular exercise can help prepare the body for the physical demands of labor and delivery.
  5. Promotes healthy fetal growth: Exercise can improve blood flow to the uterus and support the growth and development of the baby.
  6. Reduces the risk of gestational diabetes: Exercise can help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of gestational diabetes.
  7. Increases energy levels: Exercise can help increase energy levels and reduce feelings of fatigue during pregnancy.

What are the Current Guidelines for Exercise during Pregnancy?

It’s important to first consult your doctor or prenatal care provider before starting any new exercise regimen during pregnancy, as some activities may be restricted due to certain medical conditions or risk factors. 

 

Recommendation 1: Be active on most, if not all, days of the week do moderate intensity activities for 2½ to 5 hours each week; or vigorous intensity activities for 1¼ to 2½ hours each week.  This means do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity activity or do 15 to 30 minutes of vigorous intensity activity most days.  

 

Recommendation 2: Do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days each week.

 

Recommendation 3:  Break up long periods of sitting and standing still. 

 

Recommendation 4: Do pelvic floor exercises (it is important to check you are doing the correct pelvic floor exercises with a pelvic floor physiotherapist). 

 

If a woman is new to exercise, she may benefit from speaking with a prenatal exercise physiologist or pelvic floor physiotherapist. They can help design a safe and effective exercise plan that’s tailored to her needs and goals. By doing so, expectant mothers can have a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy.

 

References: 

 

Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy – guidelines – brochure | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care

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