If like me you are stuck at home and pregnant during this isolation period, you may be looking for pregnancy-appropriate exercise to keep you busy, fit and healthy. Exercise during pregnancy can help with:
- Promoting muscle strength, tone and endurance.
- Back pain, constipation, bloating and swelling.
- Improving mood and energy levels.
- Improving sleep.
- Prevention of excess weight.
- Reduction of gestational diabetes risk.
- Shortened labor and reduced C-section risk.
As a rule, research suggests that if you are pregnant and have no contraindications to exercise, you should be aiming to meet the general physical activity guidelines for adults aged 18-64 years, which are:
- 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity per week, OR
- 75-100 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week, OR
- A combination of the two above.
If, however, you were previously inactive or you are in the higher BMI weight range, you should be starting with 15-20-minutes of moderate exercise 3-4 times per week and building up to 30-minutes as able.
It was previously thought that if you are pregnant you should not be exceeding a heart rate of 140 beats per minute, however specific heart rate limitations are no longer recommended.
When it comes to the type of exercise, there are plenty of great options, including:
- Walking, swimming, or stationary cycling.
- Pregnancy-specific yoga and Pilates.
- Strength-based gym classes or home-based strength workouts.
If you were a regular runner or participated in impact sports pre-pregnancy, you can also continue this as comfort allows. However, running is not something I would recommend starting during pregnancy.
Specifically, it is also super important to work on lower abdominal and pelvic floor strengthening during and post-pregnancy. Exercises such as kegels and transversus abdominis strengthening are a fantastic start, and as physiotherapists we can prescribe a home-based program for you specific to your fitness level and needs.
There are also certain exercises that should be avoided, particularly after the first trimester, which include sit-ups or other abdominal exercises that compress the abdomen or stress the rectus diastisis. Further, if you are experiencing aches and pains resultant from your pregnancy, exercise is a fantastic tool to help increase strength and stability and reduce pain.
For specific assessment and prescription of appropriate home based exercises, get in touch with one of our physiotherapists on 07 576 1860 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.