Why you should exercise during pregnancy

Why you should exercise during pregnancy

Physical activity is paramount for maternal and fetal health. There is current, high level evidence (July 2022, level 1a) that suggests moderate physical activity during pregnancy is safe and in fact desirable, in the absence of obstetric or medical complications or contraindications (placenta previa, pre-eclampsia). Please consult with your doctor prior to exercising if you are unsure if you have these conditions.

Starting to be, or remaining active during pregnancy, improves hip and pelvic floor strength, improves balance and coordination, improves mood, and lowers fatigue. Here’s how:

General aerobic exercise such as walking or cycling for 20 minutes daily lowers the risk of gestational hypertension and gestational diabetes. Low to moderate intensity strengthening exercises are known to improve energy (in turn lowering fatigue), strengthen the muscles supporting your hips and pelvis, and reduce overall pain. Balance exercises improve walking tolerance and reduce hip pain. Upper extremity nerve and tendon gliding exercises reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome (the sensation of pins and needles in your hands).

Pelvic floor and core strengthening exercises reduce urine leakage, vaginal pressure and heaviness, abdominal discomfort, and lower back pain.

Examples of some of the above exercises include: Single leg stance and tandem stance (one foot in front of the other) for 30 second intervals, 3 times each. While sitting on a swiss ball (large bouncy ball), slowly try lifting up one foot at a time. Be careful! This challenges your balance, so always ensure you have a sturdy surface to hold onto while doing this exercise. A pelvic floor and core exercise would be to draw your lower belly inward towards your spine and draw your pelvic floor up towards your head while exhaling gently and fully (do not hold your breath). A fantastic breathing exercise could be lying on your back (propped up on a wedge) or on your side with a pillow between your knees while trying to take slow, gentle belly breaths. Breathe into your belly like you’re expanding a balloon (on inhale) and slowly and gently let out the air (exhale) and watch your belly lower.

A typical, safe workout during pregnancy should resemble this: 10 min of warming up, 25 min of aerobic exercise, 10 min of strengthening exercises, 5 min of coordination and balance exercises, 5 min of pelvic floor exercises and 5 min of stretching and relaxation.

This 60-minute exercise regime should be completed at least 3 times per week to stay strong and healthy during your pregnancy and leading up to your delivery. Always remember to stay hydrated throughout your day and especially while exercising. If you are unsure if you should be exercising during your pregnancy, please contact your doctor or book an appointment with our healthcare professionals at Move Therapeutics (admin@movetherapeutics.ca) for more information and guidance. We are always here to help!

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