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Do you want to continue exercising when pregnant, but you are not sure what kind of exercise and if it will create any harm?

The British Journal of Sport Medicine has given the answer and we have created a summary for you.

  • Pregnant women should perform 150 mins of moderate intensity exercise on a week in order to minimize the pregnancy complications (Brisk walking, stationary cycling, swimming or aqua fit)
  • A mix of aerobic and resistance training has meaningful benefits for pregnant women
  • Except for keeping active every day, physical exercise is encouraged three times a week in order to promote maternal-fetal health.
  • Pelvic floor muscle training (eg. Kegel exercises) can be performed on a daily basis to reduce the risk of urinary incontinence.
  • Some women will experience a visible separation of their abdominal muscles, called diastasis recti. Those women are advised to seek physiotherapy advice and avoid abdominal strengthening exercises (eg, abdominal curls) as this may worsen the condition. (continuing aerobic exercise such as walking is associated with decreased percentage of developing diastasis recti)
  • Women with absolute contraindications may continue their usual activities of daily living but should not participate in more strenuous activities
  • Over the last 30 years, the rates of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes mellitus, pre-eclampsia, gestational hypertension and new-born macrosomia have risen dramatically, most likely because of rising rates of maternal obesity
  • Women should not scuba-dive in pregnancy, as the fetus is not protected from decompression sickness and gas embolism
  • Women are recommended to avoid activities which involve physical contact or danger of falling, which may increase the risk of fetal trauma. These activities include, but are not limited to, horseback riding, downhill skiing, ice hockey, gymnastics or Olympic lifts
  • It is suggested that a warm-up and cool-down period be included in any physical activity regimen. Ligaments become relaxed during pregnancy due to increasing hormone levels and may impact on the range of movement, thereby increasing the risk of injury
  • It is also important that women stay hydrated and avoid vigorous physical activity in excessive heat, especially with high humidity, to avoid dehydration (eg, hot yoga)

Contraindications to exercise

  • Ruptured membranes.
  • Premature labour
  • Unexplained persistent vaginal bleeding.
  • Placenta praevia after 28 weeks’ gestation.
  • Pre-eclampsia.
  • Incompetent cervix
  • High-order multiple pregnancy (eg, triplets).
  • Uncontrolled type I diabetes.
  • Uncontrolled hypertension.
  • Uncontrolled thyroid disease.
  • Other serious cardiovascular, respiratory or systemic disorders
  • High-order multiple pregnancy (eg, triplets).
  • Uncontrolled type I diabetes.

Reasons to stop physical activity and consult a healthcare provider

  • Persistent excessive shortness of breath that does not resolve on rest.
  • Severe chest pain.
  • Regular and painful uterine contractions.
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Persistent loss of fluid from the vagina indicating rupture of the membranes.
  • Persistent dizziness or faintness that does not resolve on rest.
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