A Physical Exercise and Pregnancy

The latest up to date information and guidelines for the pregnancy and post-natal periods

Physical activity during pregnancy is often a hot topic of discussion. Social media in particular offers a platform for lots of information to be shared, which is at times both conflicting and overwhelming. As registered Allied Health Practitioners here at 13th Beach Health Services we strive to offer the highest quality care based on the most up to date and reliable sources. 

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and

Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) both publish guidelines based on the most up to date research in pregnancy and physical activity, that we use to form all our advice and treatment plans.    

“Women without contraindications should participate in regular aerobic and strength exercise during pregnancy” 

So how much should I do?

Consensus across RANZCOG & SMA recommends:

For AEROBIC exercise 30-60mins of moderate intensity exercise on most days of the week

For STRENGTH exercise 2 sessions per week on non-consecutive days

NOTE: if using weights they should be light eg. resistance bands or done with body weight is recommended. Heavy weight lifting is not recommended.

What is MODERATE INTENSITY?

Intensity can be highly variable across exercise modalities and individuals therefore using the “talk test” is recommended. You should be able to maintain a conversation throughout activity at all times to be considered moderate intensity. It is not recommended to rely on heart rate alone for measuring intensity as it is not always reliable during pregnancy, due to normal adaptations of the body.

“…There is no evidence that regular exercise during an uncomplicated pregnancy is detrimental to the mother or the foetus”

In fact there are significant benefits associated with being physically active during pregnancy:

– Help maintain a healthy weight. Many potentially adverse conditions that can occur during a pregnancy are associated with a high BMI 

– Reduces the risk of developing depression and the severity of depressive symptom

– Assists in the physical preparation for the stress of labour

Research also shows that exercising during pregnancy lowers the risk of developing:

– Gestational diabetes

– Gestational hypertension

– Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure)

It is important to note that all of these recommendations are for an uncomplicated pregnancy where there are no identified contraindications to exercise. This requires ongoing collaborative assessment by both a woman’s obstetrician, physiotherapist and/or exercise instructor. Exercise also should not be undertaken or commenced while pregnant without consultation with these health professionals.

The great news is that in the overwhelming majority of pregnancies physical activity is not only safe but encouraged ! Any activities that do not have an increased risk of falling and are conducted in a safe environment are suitable during pregnancy such as walking, stationary bike riding, swimming, gym based programs and classes, pilates, yoga … the list goes on !

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If you need more information on this topic or some guidance, come in and see one of our Physiotherapists here at 13th Beach Health Services. In addition we offer individual and group pilates that are suitable for women at all stages of pregnancy.

Further reading and references:

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Exercise during pregnancy. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. https://ranzcog.edu.au/RANZCOG_SITE/media/RANZCOG-MEDIA/Women%27s%20Health/Statement%20and%20guidelines/Clinical-Obstetrics/Exercise-during-pregnancy-(C-Obs-62).pdf?ext=.pdf Published March 2020

Sports Medicine Australia. SMA position statement exercise in pregnancy and the postpartum period. Sports Medicine Australia. https://sma.org.au/sma-site-content/uploads/2017/08/pregnancystatement.pdf Published 2017

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