Exercise and Pregnancy

Pic 1.pngPregnant Women without any complication are encouraged by health professionals to participate in a combination of aerobic and strength exercise to help support the health of both mother and foetus. It is important that when deciding to commence an exercise program, that you aim to maintain good fitness levels rather than aiming for peak fitness.

This blog is here to support you on your path to commencing exercise during your journey by giving you the answers to some questions you may be asking yourself.

Benefits of Exercise during pregnancy

  • Stress relief
  • Weight control
  • Increased energy levels
  • Enjoyment
  • Decrease pregnancy complications – eg. Pre-eclampsia
  • Reduce back and pelvic pain
  • Prevention and management of urinary incontinence
  • Improved posture
  • Improved circulation

Changes that occur during pregnancy and how exercise can assist with these changes.

  • Increase in the release of the hormone Relaxin. This hormone loosens ligaments, increasing the risk for joint injuries. Exercise will help to strength the muscles around these areas to help stabilise/support these loosened areas.
  • Changes in weight distribution causing your centre of gravity to move forward resulting in a change in balance. Exercise will allow you to respond to these changes reducing risk for falls and pressure placed on hips, knees and ankles.

Exercise Suggestions for inactive women commencing an exercise regimen for first time.

The first thing to check prior to commencing exercise is are you medically fit to exercise. If you are healthy and not experiencing any complications, then you can continue to exercise at an appropriate level that you are comfortable with until you physically unable to continue.

If you unsure whether you can exercise, please speak to your doctor prior to commencing. If you are unsure where to begin your exercise journey, our helpful physiotherapist will be able to guide you where needed.

General guidelines state at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days if not all days is required to see health benefits. If you are starting out for first time do not stress start with light intensity exercises such as walking and swimming and work your way up to moderate intensity. The best advice we can give is to listen your body and your limits, do not push yourself. Due to the changes with your heart rate and blood pressure during pregnancy the best guide to monitor your levels of intensity is by your perceived levels of exertion. The level you want to aim for is where you can hold a conversation but struggle to sing out loud.

Cautions for pregnancy with exercise

  • Avoid raising your body temperature too high eg. Decrease intensity on hot/humid days
  • Don’t exercise past the point of exertion
  • When stretching ensure it is slow and controlled
  • Avoid lifting heavy weights
  • When feeling feverish or unwell avoid exercise
  • On days where you are not feeling up to it 100% listen to your body and have a rest day

pic 2.pngSuggestions of suitable exercises during pregnancy

  • Walking
  • Cycling – outdoor or stationary
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Muscle strength: light weights including pelvic floor exercises
  • Water aerobics
  • Yoga, stretch and floor work classes
  • Pregnancy exercise classes
  • Pilates

Our centre runs a pre/postnatal Pilates class on Tuesday at 2pm. For more information contact our reception.

Two important groups of exercise to focus on

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor weakens occurs during pregnancy and birth (vaginal delivery). These types of exercise are individualised based off your needs. For appropriate pelvic floor exercise parameter and review your technique please arrange an appointment with one of our helpful physiotherapists. These exercises are to be continued throughout your pregnancy and to be resumed when comfortable.

Abdominal Exercises

When your abdominals are strong they help to support your spine. The inner core and pelvic floor act like a corset protect the lumbar spine and pelvis.

Commonly during pregnancy, the condition known as diastasis recti abdominis – a painless splitting of the abdominal muscle at the midline, also known as abdominal separation will occur. It is important to avoid sit-ups or crunches during pregnancy as they have been known to worsen this condition.

Appropriate core stability exercises are recommended during pregnancy to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen. For further assistance with establishing suitable core exercises for you, book a session with one of our physiotherapists.

Exercise to avoid

  • Supine positions – due to the position of the foetus
  • Wide squats and lunges
  • Increase in abdominal trauma/pressure e.g. Lifting heavy weights
  • Contact/collision sports – e.g. soccer, basketball
  • Hard projectile sports e.g. Hockey, softball
  • Falling e.g. Horse riding
  • Sports of high altitude – mountain hiking
  • High pressure changes – scuba diving

If you experience any of the following during or after physical activity, stop exercising immediately and see your doctor:

  • Headaches, dizziness or feeling faintpic 3.png
  • Heart palpitations, chest pain or unusual shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the face, hands, calves or feet
  • An unusual change in your baby’s movements
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Amniotic fluid leakage
  • Contractions
  • Deep back or pelvic pain
  • Walking/balance difficulties
  • Muscle weakness.

For a consultation call 92971188 to book an appointment today.



Brooke Lavell

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