Physical Activity is important for all pregnant women, whether you were completing any before becoming pregnant or not. There are great benefits to completing physical activity while pregnant such as:
- Improved muscular strength and endurance
- Improved cardiovascular function and fitness
- Decreased risk of complications such as pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia
- Reduced back and pelvic pain
- Reduced fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression
- Decrease in excessive weight gain and weight retention
- Fewer delivery complications
Inactive Women Prior to Pregnancy:
Women who were inactive prior to becoming pregnant should however consult with their doctor before commencing physical activity. Pregnant women should begin with low intensity physical activity such as walking or swimming and progress into the lower ranges of the Australian Guidelines (150 minutes per week or 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity).
Active Women Prior to Pregnancy:
Women that are already active prior to becoming pregnant are recommended to continue their physical activity throughout pregnancy, or until it becomes uncomfortable to do so. Consultation with a physician or specialist is still recommended.
Activities that are safe for Pregnant Women:
- Walking, jogging, cycling and swimming (at moderate-intensity)
- Muscle strengthening exercises, and pelvic floor exercises
- Water based exercise
- Pregnancy specific exercise classes
Activities considered unsafe:
- Abdominal trauma or pressure (e.g. weight lifting).
- Contact or collision (e.g. soccer, ice hockey, martial arts etc).
- Hard projectile objects or striking implements (e.g. hockey, cricket, softball etc).
- Falling (e.g. judo, skiing, skating, horse riding etc).
- Extreme balance, coordination and agility (e.g. gymnastics, water skiing etc).
- Significant changes in pressure (e.g. scuba diving, sky diving etc).
- Heavy (greater than submaximal) lifting.
- High intensity training at altitudes greater than 2000m.
- Exercise in the supine position, or even motionless supine posture (e.g. in some yoga positions) may cause hypotension in some women.
Overall, most forms of moderate physical activity is recommended to women during the course of their pregnancy. It is also recommended that women should consult with their physician or a trained professional such as a physiotherapist and exercise physiologist to ensure they activities are safe.