It’s true that lots of physical and hormonal changes occur in pregnant women, which make them vulnerable to certain physical exercise. Weight gain of around 11 kg occurs in pregnancy. Increased levels of pregnancy hormones also make the joints lax and hypermobile. Thus, straight way, indulging or continuing exercise in pregnancy appeared to be a bit riskier.
Controversy over Exercise in Pregnant State
There exist unsupported reports regarding early onset labor and less fetal growth in athletes who have continued exercise in gravid state. That’s why it’s appeared puzzling whether to continue exercising while pregnant. But is it actually unsafe to live a healthier lifestyle? Or are there any specific advantages in pregnancy and labor for those active women in comparison to those with very sedentary lifestyles? The true scenario emerged as entirely different following publications of certain studies in last decade conducted over women who indulged exercise in pregnancy. Let us have a scientific as well as professional look regarding this apparent debatable issue.
Exercise in Pregnancy – Advantages
Exercise can be of two types, weight bearing like walking or treadmill and non-weight bearing like swimming or cycling. These study results straight way recommends to continue moderate exercise in pregnancy or even to start for those who were previously sedentary. Advantages of performing exercise in pregnancy appeared many fold.
- Higher chances of vaginal delivery
- Lower incidences of cesarean section and forceps delivery
- Shorter duration of labor
- No increased risk of preterm labor
- Birth of babies with higher birth weight.
Exercise in Pregnancy – Prescription
There are also controversies regarding duration and types of exercise that should be indulged into the gravid state. American College of Gynecologists (ACOG) is clearly recommending the exercise in pregnancy prescription to result in the expenditure of 150 – 300 kcal/day. It is approximately equivalent to the calorie expenditure of walking 1.5 miles/day approximately. Speed is not important as a faster pace increases calorie expenditure by 6 -10% only.
Types of Exercise in Pregnancy
You cannot perform any type of exercise in pregnancy. Cycling, swimming, walking and low impact aerobics appear to be safe in pregnancy. For those who are sedentary; non-weight bearing exercises such as cycling or swimming are appropriate to start. Sports with risks of trauma; skiing, horse riding, tennis, gymnastics or contact sports may be best avoided. Scuba diving is contraindicated.
Duration and Frequency of Exercise
American college of Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends moderate intensity exercise in pregnancy for 30 minutes/day for most of the day of a week. The intensity should be reduced gradually as your pregnancy advances.
Not all pregnant women are suitable to followan exercise schedule. You should not indulge into exercise schedule in the gravid state if you have any of the following risk factors.
- Heart disease
- Restrictive lung disease
- Incompetent cervix
- Twin pregnancy
- Persistent bleeding per vagina
- Preterm labor or amniotic fluid leakage
- Pregnancy induced hypertension
- Poorly controlled type I diabetes
- Extreme morbid obesity or extreme underweight
- History of smoking
- Pre-pregnancy exceedingly sedentary life
To conclude, a moderate degree of exercise of 30 minutes/day is recommended in pregnant state, provided you do not have any high-risk factor.
Would you like to speak with the top physical therapists to see which exercises are safe during pregnancy? Come to Century Medical and Dental Center (Downtown Brooklyn, Gravesend, Flatbush, Fort Greene and Midtown Manhattan) for a consultation today.