Exercise and Pregnancy
We all know how important exercise is for both your physical and mental health right? Well new research from Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) has shown there are many benefits for women who undertake physical activity during and after pregnancy as well. These include a reduced risk of pregnancy-related conditions such as pre-eclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertension, and reduced incidence of delivery complications such as caesarean delivery.
Researcher and author of the guidelines, Melanie Hayman from CQUniversity says few women are sufficiently active during their pregnancy to obtain the associated health benefits. She states that fewer than 30 per cent of Australian pregnant women are sufficiently active. In addition to this, whilst pregnancy was once considered a time for rest, when women were advised to take it easy and refrain from participating in physical activity and exercise – a growing body of evidence contrary to that challenges this view.
The guidelines state:
- Walking, jogging, cycling and swimming (at moderate intensity), muscle strengthening exercises (including pelvic floor exercises), water based exercise, and pregnancy-specific exercise classes are safe for pregnant women.
- Pregnant women who were inactive prior to pregnancy should be encouraged to be active during pregnancy, commencing with low intensity activities such as walking or swimming, and progressing to the lower end of the range recommended in the Australian, Canadian and US national guidelines (i.e. 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity on most days).
- For healthy pregnant women who participated in physical activity and exercise prior to pregnancy, and are experiencing an uncomplicated pregnancy, physical activity and exercise can be continued throughout pregnancy, or until such time that it becomes uncomfortable to do so.
- There are contraindications, signs and symptoms, which indicate that physical activity and exercise is not recommended for all pregnant women.
- Evidence shows that returning to physical activity and exercise in the post-partum period has benefits for the mothers’ physical and mental health and wellbeing.
To view SMA’s statement in full follow the link below