Can I exercise during my pregnancy?

Hi Everyone,

Can I exercise during my pregnancy? This is a question asked by many mums to be, as many people are still under the impression that pregnant ladies need ‘to rest’ all the time. In this post I’d like to discuss the guidelines for exercise during pregnancy and how they’ve changed over the years. In the early days there was very little research being carried out, so guidelines were very much ‘better be safe than sorry’ and I guess that was fair enough. These days however we know so much more, and staying active is most definitely the way to go.

Back in the 1950’s the recommended exercise for pregnant ladies was 1 mile of walking a day, but that should be broken down into several sessions………Phew, now don’t overdo it, you’re pregnant!!!

In the mid 80’s The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) brought out new guidelines that were a little more relaxed but still had firm criteria to follow. They determined that most aerobic activity was safe for 15 minutes duration, but heart rate should be kept to a maximum of 140bpm and body temperature to under 100.4 degrees fahrenheit.

More research was now being undertaken by Dr James Clapp and others, and in 1994 the ACOG guidelines changed yet again. This time it was determined that ‘women with uncomplicated pregnancies can exercise safely with virtually the same safeguards as non-pregnant women.’

In fact Dr Clapps research has shown that women who performed 45 minutes of weight bearing, aerobic type exercise on 5 or more days of the week throughout their pregnancy experienced improved well being, reduced constipation, reduced leg cramps and a quicker return to their pre-pregnancy weight than their non-exercising counterparts. There was also a reduced risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy induced hypertension. Added to this, babies of exercising mums have been shown to have less body fat at birth and be less cranky, with a reduction in the instances of colic, and greater neurodevelopment in language and motor skills by the age of 5.

Another study by Dr Clapp showed that in exercising mothers labour was shortened by around a third, with 65% of those women delivering in four hours or less. Now that has to be good news!!

Obviously care has to be taken at all times and your doctor should be consulted before you undertake an antenatal exercise program. This is because there are certain relative and absolute contra-indications to exercise during pregnancy, and while you may not be sure if you have any, your doctor will. Once given the all clear to exercise use your common sense and listen to your body at all times. If in doubt call a fitness professional specialising in antenatal exercise. These can be found at www.newbornfitness.com or www.lifestylexperts.com

A list of the ACOG guidelines and the contra-indications to pregnancy can also be found at The Miracle Box website under info & advice.

Healthy Regards

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  1. Newly pregnant and still hoping to stay active and eat well~this is a great encouragement! *THANK YOU!*

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