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  • Writer's pictureBankstown Physiotherapy

Should Pregnant Women Exercise?

Previously pregnant women were discouraged from exercise, advised to rest, and not overexert themselves.

Today, for most pregnant women, at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise is recommended on most, if not all, days of the week. Walking is a great exercise for beginners. It provides moderate aerobic conditioning with minimal stress on your joints.

What Are The Benefits:

As pregnancy progresses the shape and size of a woman’s body changes. Exercise can help manage the increased load placed on the joints, muscles, and ligaments.

There are numerous potential health benefits for women who exercise during pregnancy, including better weight control, improved mood and maintenance of fitness levels. Regular exercise during pregnancy can also decrease the risk of pregnancy-related complications such as pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia.

Before exercising when pregnant, consult your doctor, physiotherapist or healthcare professional. You may need to modify your existing exercise program or choose a suitable new one if you were exercising very little before getting pregnant.

How Much Exercise is Recommended for Pregnant Women

If you and your baby are healthy, you should aim to meet the physical and sedentary behaviour guidelines for adults during pregnancy. This means being active most days, preferably every day, to a weekly total of either:

  • 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity

  • 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity

  • an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities.

Do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days each week. Aim to do strengthening activities, such as light resistance training or bodyweight exercises.

Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you do no physical activity right now, start by doing some, then slowly build up to the recommended amount.

Types of activity

Include both aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises in your daily routine, which could include:

  • brisk walking

  • stationary cycling

  • swimming

  • dancing

  • light resistance activities.

You should aim to do pelvic floor exercises every day, while pregnant, then for life, to keep your pelvic muscles strong and avoid problems like incontinence. Learn the correct technique for pelvic floor exercises.

Women who continue to exercise at high intensities should consult their obstetric care provider.

What Type of Exercise Should Pregnant Women Do

Pregnant women are encouraged to incorporate both aerobic and resistance exercise

Aerobic exercise involves continuous activities that use large muscle groups. Aerobic exercise improves heart and lung function. Examples include:

  • Walking

  • Swimming

  • Cycling (stationary cycling is recommended)

  • Rowing

Resistance exercise aims to increase muscular strength and should be included at least twice per week. You can use your body weight, free weights, resistance bands or machine weights.

For those new to exercise body weight or light weights are recommended.

Women participating in strength training prior to pregnancy can continue, modifying weights and exercises as required. During pregnancy strenuous weightlifting should be modified to avoid Valsalva manoeuvre.

High impact activities such as running and jumping increase pressure on the pelvic floor, be mindful of these activities and modify accordingly.

How Do I Book An Appointment?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. Call us at (02) 9793 3119

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