Exercise during Pregnancy

Advice and planning for physical activity during pregnancy

Exercise during Pregnancy

Up until a few years ago, the approach to sport during pregnancy was marked by caution and was limited to drastically reducing physical exercise. However, as of the past several years, guidelines on physical activity and exercise during pregnancy published across the globe encourage women to maintain an active lifestyle before and after giving birth.

How the body changes during pregnancy and why this affects motor activity

Pregnant women are faced with a body that is constantly changing in terms of energy needs, hormones, weight, centre of gravity, and joint stress, which can expose joints to a higher risk of trauma during pregnancy. This is why low impact exercises are often recommended, including swimming, walking, yoga, light exercise, posture training or, better yet, specific prepartum training courses. The respiratory system also changes during pregnancy, with the diaphragm being pushed upwards as the uterus grows, thereby reducing lung capacity and making it difficult to compensate for aerobic exercise. For all these reasons, it is important to exercise great care in selecting the type of training and the exercises to be carried out during pregnancy.

Guidelines for exercise during pregnancy

While the scientific evidence supports regular, moderate-intensity physical activity for pregnant women, exercise should always be undertaken gradually and in a manner consistent with one's own level of preparation. In any event, the risk of adverse events should be ruled out through pre-screening to safeguard the well-being of the mother and child: exercise before and after giving birth must be prescribed by specialised medical personnel and should preferably be carried out in accordance with instructions provided by qualified personnel.

Let's see some general instructions that need to be kept in mind:

  • First of all, it's good to never work out to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. This is a sign that your child and your body are not able to obtain the oxygen they need.

  • Strength training should focus on increasing muscle tone, especially for the upper part of the body and the abdominal area.

 

Useful advice for exercising during pregnancy

  • Use comfortable footwear that provides support for the ankle and plantar arch

  • Take frequent breaks and drink lots of liquids during training

  • Avoid exercising in extremely hot weather

  • Avoid rocky soil or unstable terrain when running or cycling; your joints are less stable over the nine months of pregnancy

  • Be sure to do exercises that avoid overloading the lower part of the back

  • During the second and third trimesters, avoid exercises that involve lying on your back, since this reduces the flow of blood to the uterus

  • Include relaxing and stretching before and after sports

  • Maintain a healthy diet with lots of fruit, vegetables and complex carbohydrates

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