What exercise should I be doing in pregnancy? What is safe? What is not?
This is a question that we get all the time from clients that are wanting to be as healthy as possible before, during and after their pregnancy. There are a lot of consistent changes across the majority of pregnancies but there are more changes that are highly individualised to each pregnancy. The best way to continue exercising throughout your pregnancy is to do this in a private session with your physiotherapist or other health care provider. A specialist can make informed clinical decisions that are related to you specifically and are most attuned with your goals.
General guidelines are just that, a “general guide”. Some guidelines will be below your capabilities and others may be inappropriate for you. When following general guidelines, please do listen to your body and consult a specialist health professional if you have any concerns.
Here are some current general guidelines for throughout your pregnancy:
- The NHS suggests at least 150mins of moderate intensity exercise a week i.e. walking fast but still able to hold a conversation.
- The American College of Obstetric and Gynaecology recommends 30mins of moderate intensity exercise on most if not all days of the week.
- You can continue exercising the same way as you were pre-pregnancy with some slight changes mentioned below.
- Avoid high impact activities, high altitude, scuba diving or activities where there is a risk of falling or abdominal trauma. Otherwise there is no limit to the type of exercise as long as it’s safe, practical and goal orientated.
- Exercise needs to be adapted to precautions and contraindications that change throughout the trimesters as your body changes.
- It is safe to start exercise you haven’t done before but should be approached gradually and with individualised advice.
- A combination of strength, flexibility/control and cardiovascular exercise is recommended.
With these guidelines in mind it is important to sensor your expectations of yourself as your body and capacity change as your pregnancy progresses. It is important to consider the summation of activity you have done in a day/week and also just how you are feeling at that minute as this will also affect your capacity. Remember your body is using a huge amount of energy just to nurture the growth of your baby! This is why listening to your body and seeking professional exercise especially if something doesn’t feel right is so important during pregnancy.