grow health pregnancy blog

Exercise in Pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy can seem daunting and confusing. There is a great deal of (often conflicting) advice out there which makes choosing how to stay active during this life stage challenges. What we do know, is much like all other stages in life, exercise is hugely beneficial during uncomplicated pregnancies. Unless it is medically indicated you cease exercise (which can be required in some rare instances), staying active will have immediate and long-term benefits on maternal and child health.

As women’s health physio we are very passionate about keeping women active during pregnancy, however, we understand the implications the physiological changes can have on your body and what adaptations are necessary to manage these changes. There is no one size fits all approach for women during pregnancy. There are some general guidelines we follow, however, specific recommendations can differ for each individual. 

What we do know:

  • It is recommended women stay active throughout pregnancy (unless medically contraindicated). 
  • In a healthy pregnancy, exercise is safe for both the mother and baby
  • Women should be cleared to exercise by their treating team prior to commencing an exercise program 

Things we know need to be considered:

  • The physiological changes throughout pregnancy should be considered when determining appropriate forms of exercise. Things such as ligament laxity, muscle function, increase in weight, and changes in heart rate and blood pressure, will all influence what forms of exercise or activity are appropriate for each individual. 

  • Frequency, duration and intensity of exercise should be adjusted to suit each woman at each stage of pregnancy. These things will be impacted by factors such as previous activity and fitness levels. 

  • Exertion levels and temperature need to be managed to avoid overexertion or overheating

How these considerations are applied to each individual woman can differ greatly. For example, if a woman had a high baseline level of fitness and activity prior to falling pregnant, it may be appropriate for her to continue those previous forms of exercise which may include running or high-intensity gym-based training early in her pregnancy, provided the above-mentioned factors were considered. As the pregnancy progressed, and further physiological changes took effect, it would be likely that this exercise would need to be modified to lower impact options more suitable for the late stages of pregnancy. In other instances, where a woman was relatively inactive prior to pregnancy, easing into a low-moderate intensity exercise regime that could include things such as brisk walking and bodyweight training would be appropriate and recommended. 

In most instances, exercise is safe and recommended to commence or maintain throughout pregnancy. Avoiding postures (such as lying on your back) and activities (such as high-impact movements or high-risk activities) that stress the body unnecessarily should be avoided as pregnancy progresses. If women have a change in symptoms throughout their pregnancy or develop symptoms during exercise, they should seek advice from their treating team.

If you don’t know where to start with your exercise, or you are eager to continue what you love but are unsure if it’s safe, get in touch with a women’s health physio who can help guide you!