READ - What is "too much" exercise when your pregnant?
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Canada has recently released new guidelines for physical activity throughout pregnancy. There have previously been very mixed messaged provided to women during pregnancy that date back to old recommendations from 1994. In 2015 recommendations were released that showed exercise during pregnancy was safe for women absent of contraindications. These new recommendations continue along the lines of pro-exercise, however give further information regarding duration, frequency and intensity. This includes women who have been previously inactive.
There are six recommendations made within in the paper, with the following four supported by strong evidence:
All women without contraindications should be physically active throughout pregnancy including women who have been inactive and those classed as overweight or obese
Pregnant women should accumulate at least 150mins of moderate intensity physical activity each week to achieve a clinically meaningful health benefits and reduction in pregnancy complications
Physical activity should be accumulated over a minimum of 3 days per week; however being active every day is encouraged
Pregnant women should incorporate a variety of aerobic and resistance training activities to achieve great benefits.
The paper also reported that fewer than 15% of women will actually achieve the minimum recommendations of 150mins per week of moderate-intensity physical activity during pregnancy. It has been seen that the main barriers to exercise is fear of harm to the baby or themselves and a lack of medical advice. However concerns over harm have not been substantiated in the current research and that the benefits of exercise outweigh the risk in terms of both maternal and fetal health, with physical activity being seen as a preventative measure for pregnancy complications.
The guidelines provide types of activities to avoid such as high impact sports, scuba diving and exercising in heat, but also provide alternatives such as brisk walking, stationary bike, swimming or aqua aerobics. The main recommendation to take away from this though, is to remain as active as you can throughout your pregnancy and find something that you enjoy to do. As long as you pass the ‘talk test’ then you know you are exercising at the right intensity for you in whatever mode you chose.
If you are unsure, talk with your GP, obstetrician and health professionals to help you find appropriate options.
* The talk test is a way to judge if you are working at a moderate-intensity. As the name implies, you should be able to maintain a conversation comfortably but shouldn’t be able to sing. This will allow you to easily adjust your intensity, without having to monitor heart rate.