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Keeping Active for a Healthy Pregnancy

October 17, 2011 by Marc Faktor, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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I am sure the news has hit that a lady 39 weeks pregnant recently ran/walked the Chicago Marathon! Wow what a feat! This being said, the Healthy Families BC team and I thought it would be an awesome opportunity to briefly discuss physical activity and pregnancy. 

Important Note:  The lady who completed the Marathon, was very well trained and had practiced for this event before as well as during her entire pregnancy so her body was used to the stress.

I DO NOT recommend this for the average woman or JIL! Here is a good article documenting her feat and whether or not it’s a good idea to do what she did.

Ok, so now that the news is out of the way, let’s get to our discussion on physical activity and pregnancy. Traditional medical advice, now a thing of the past, was for woman not to undertake exercise, especially strenuous exercise, and if they were exercising it was recommended for them to significantly decrease their intensity of exercise. This medical advice was very conservative in efforts to protect the fetus and mother; however, it was not based on evidence! Today, evidence clearly suggests that women who quit smoking, eat a well balanced diet and initiate regular exercise before and during their pregnancy are well on their way to a healthy pregnancy.

In addition, evidence suggests that women who maintain a regular physical activity regimen of suitable frequency, intensity, and duration before and during their pregnancy are more likely to receive the following benefits.

Fun Fact: If women continue to exercise after pregnancy they are more likely to shed the excess weight at a much faster rate!

  • Shorter labour
  • Decreased anxiety, lower postnatal distress, and decreased postpartum depression!

On the other hand, research has documented that women who are physically INACTIVE, are at a greater risk for: excessive maternal weight gain, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia as well as a cruel list of pregnancy discomforts including (nausea, insomnia, leg cramps, heartburn, haemorrhoids, edema & round ligament pain).

How much exercise is recommended?

For previously inactive woman looking to improve their health along with the newborn to be, it is recommended that you have a consultation with your physician to discuss increasing your exercise. The PAR-MED-X for pregnancy is a great screening tool to assist you and your physician in increasing your activity. For healthy woman who do not participate in vigorous intensity activities, it is recommended that you get at least 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity spread throughout the week.

Woman who are already doing vigorous intensity exercise, or very high volumes of exercise, it is reasonable to continue on with your exercise regimens provided that your current health or condition does not change and that you meet with your physician regularly to discuss your activity levels.

Ps. Don’t forget to contact the Physical Activity Line to get advice from Certified Exercise Physiologist regarding physical activity and pregnancy!

I hope this information was useful and I encourage all readers to share their thoughts and wisdom with the community by commenting below!

Remember: Keep Positive, Keep Smiling, and KEEP MOVING!


 

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