Thursday, March 22, 2012

Exercising for Two!

Congratulations!!! You just found out you are pregnant and you are looking forward to all the exciting changes to happen over the next few months. But most of all you are now “eating for two” so this is an excuse to eat whatever you want whenever you want.

Although this is the belief among many pregnant women it is not true. Now more than ever you should be taking care of your body, watching what you eat and exercising regularly. Excess weight gain is becoming a major issue among pregnant women and it can lead to gestational diabetes and hypertension.

 The benefits of exercising while pregnant are substantial for prevention, labour and mental health.
  •  Prevention 
    •  Excessive weight gain 
    • Post partum weight retention 
    • Gestational diabetes 
    • Obesity
    • Heart disease 
  • Labour
    • Physical discomfort and complications during labour and delivery are lower in active women
    • You will have greater stamina to get through labour 
    • Recovery tends to be shorter 
  • Mental Health 
For women in a healthy low-risk pregnancy it is encouraged to participate in mild to moderate intensity exercise. This will pose no threat to the mother or fetus. The best kind of exercise is aerobic activity (using large muscle groups). A great example is walking!

A great guideline to follow is the F.I.T.T. principles:
  • Frequency (F) - 3 to 4 times a week 
  • Intensity (I) – this is monitored by heart rate or the “talk test” (pregnant women should be able to have a conversation while exercising and not be out of breath) 
  • Time (T) – 15-30 minutes of intense work out preceded by a warm up and followed by a cool down 
  • Type (T) - activities should be low-impact and non-weight bearing 
It is also important to do muscle conditioning exercises while pregnant, however extra caution should be taken:
  • Do not exercise laying on your back (after 16 weeks) 
  • Avoid bouncing exercises
  • Stretches should be controlled
  • Avoid abdominal exercises
  • Correct posture and neutral pelvic alignment
  • Avoid holding breath 
  • High repetition should only be done with low weights
It is extremely important before beginning any exercise regime, but especially when pregnant, that you consult your health care professional before commencing.

For additional resources:
References from the SIRC Collection
Mottola, M. (2011) Exercise and Pregnancy: Canadian Guidelines for Health Care Professionals. August 2011, 22(4).

1 comment:

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