As long as it is a low risk pregnancy (as most pregnancies are), then 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise is recommended on most if not all days of the week.
There are different types of exercises which can be done during pregnancy, all depending on your previous experience. If you’re someone who hasn’t done a lot of exercise, then 3-4 days a week of 20-30 minutes of mild-moderate intensity exercise is the recommendation. This can include:
- Swimming (ensure temperature of water is below 33.4℃ and no longer than 45 minutes)
- Resistance training
- Running (for those who have been running prior to pregnancy).
For resistance exercises, using light weights, body weight or bands are great. Ensuring after the first trimester that exercises are not performed laying on your back.
Exercises to avoid in pregnancy:
- Exercises with high abdominal pressure (weight lifting)
- Contact or collision sports (hockey, soccer, martial arts)
- Sports with projectile objects or striking implements (cricket)
- Sports with risk of falling (skiing, skating, horse riding)
- Sports with significant changes in pressure (scuba diving)
- Exercise in the supine position
How to measure ‘moderate’ intensity:
Using Ratings of Perceived Exertion template listed to the right will help to keep you in the optimal range while exercising. This level will be different for each person depending on their exercise history, the type of exercise and general fitness levels.
What are the benefits of exercise?
Exercise prior, during and after pregnancy is great for weight management, mental health and cardiovascular benefits. It also has other benefits particularly with pregnancy as it decreases the chances of developing gestational diabetes, hypertension and pre-eclampsia. Exercise also helps to improve cardiovascular endurance, improving the effectiveness of the heart and lungs, as well as decreasing the risk of developing or the severity of depression.
Conditions to mention:
There are conditions of the parent or growing fetus that can impact the body’s ability to tolerate exercise. Some of these conditions will require you to discuss what level of exercise you can perform with your doctor. These include:
- Previous heart or lung conditions
- Previous miscarriage
- Previous preterm birth
- Twin pregnancy (earlier than 28th week)
- Fetal growth restriction
- Malnutrition or eating disorder
- Incompetent cervix
- Placenta previa after 28th week
- Ruptured membranes (waters broken)
- Signs of preterm labour (regular, pain contractions)
- Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy
Sometimes the risk of exercising (increasing the effort on the heart and lungs) isn’t beneficial enough to outweigh the risks in conditions like these. You can discuss more with your obstetrician or doctor.
I hope this gave you a little more information, particularly if you are currently pregnant or hoping to be soon.
At Arana hills physiotherapy Rani offers all different types of women’s and pelvic health management. If you’re having any concerns regarding pregnancy related pain, have just given birth or want to ensure your pelvic floor muscles are working effectively, you can book in here.