VIEWS ON EXERCISING DURING PREGNANCY
Views on exercising during pregnancy, the subject of this blog, have changed over the years. Today, many pregnant women will run, play sport and work out under the guidance of a fitness professional such as a personal trainer, while taking advice from their doctor.
ACSM ARTICLE ON EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has recently released a new article by Raul Artal, M.D., James F. Clapp, III, M.D., and Daniel V. Vigil, M.D., FACSM, which looks at exercise during pregnancy.
The article states that “combining regular exercise and pregnancy appears to benefit both mother and baby in many ways” and goes on to talk about both physical and psychological benefits.
PROS AND CONS OF EXERCISE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN
While some may be concerned about miscarriage, premature delivery, poor foetal growth, or musculoskeletal injury, the authors say that: “For normal pregnancies, these concerns have not been substantiated. Indeed, participation in regular weight-bearing exercise has been shown to improve maternal fitness, restrict weight gain without compromising fetal growth, and hasten postpartum recovery.”
However, there are certain recommendations, which can vary depending on whether the mother is in the first, second or third trimester.
HERE IS A SUMMARY OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE ACSM ARTICLE:
Safety: The article points out that balance and coordination can be affected by weight gain. The following should be avoided: fatigue; exercise that risks abdominal injury; exercising in supine or prone positions after the first trimester.
Environment: Heat and humidity should be avoided, in particular during the first trimester – hydration is important (see our blog on: The importance of hydration).
Growth and Development: Proper weight gain is important (see our blog on Weight gain during pregnancy). Medical evaluation is essential if there are worrying symptoms or any sign the pregnancy is not progressing as it should.
Mode: Pregnant women can carry out both weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing exercise providing they are comfortable and avoid exercise that causes strain (ie heavy weightlifting), requires risky balance in the second and third trimesters (bike riding), or extremes of air pressure (scuba diving, mountain climbing).
Intensity: The advice is to keep to similar levels of intensity that the woman was comfortable with before her pregnancy.
Exercise: New exercise programmes can be started at the same level the woman is used to, as long as she is healthy and the pregnancy is progressing normally.
As always, exercise should be carried out under the supervision of a qualified expert.
Get qualified with CMS Fitness Courses by completing the Level 3 Award in Designing Pre and Post Natal Exercise Programmes.