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27.10D: Exercise and Pregnancy

  • Page ID
    8296
  • In the absence of complications, pregnant women should continue aerobic and strength training exercise for the duration of gestation.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Evaluate the types of exercise appropriate for pregnant women

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • Moderate aerobic exercise and strength training improve the health of pregnant women while having no adverse consequences on the developing fetus.
    • A variety of exercise activities are appropriate, with the exception of those with a high risk for abdominal trauma, such as horseback riding, skiing, soccer, or hockey.
    • Contraindications of exercise include: vaginal bleeding, dyspnea before exertion, dizziness, headache, chest pain, muscle weakness, preterm labor, decreased fetal movement, amniotic fluid leakage, and calf pain or swelling (to rule out thrombophlebitis).

     

    Key Terms

     

    • contraindication: A factor or symptom that makes the prescribed treatment inadvisable.
    • aerobic exercise: Physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process.
    • strength-conditioning: The use of resistance to muscular contraction to build the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. There are many different methods of strength training, the most common being the use of gravity or elastic/hydraulic forces to oppose muscle contraction.
    • thrombophlebitis: Phlebitis (vein inflammation) related to a thrombus (blood clot).

    This is a photograph of a pregnant woman in gym clothes lifting hand weights. A strong, healthy woman will generally have a good pregnancy outcome. Physicians recommend moderate exercise during pregnancy, including strength-training.

     

    Exercising while pregnant: A strong, healthy woman will generally have a good pregnancy outcome. Physicians recommend moderate exercise during pregnancy, including strength-training.

    Regular aerobic exercise during pregnancy appears to improve (or maintain) physical fitness. Although an upper level of safe exercise intensity has not been established, women who were regular exercisers before pregnancy and who have uncomplicated, healthy pregnancies should be able to engage in high-intensity exercise programs (e.g., jogging and aerobics) for less than 45 minutes with no adverse effects. They just need to be mindful of the possibility that they may need to increase their energy intake, and are careful to not become overheated.

    In the absence of either medical or obstetric complications, doctors advise an accumulation of 30 minutes a day of exercise on most if not all days of the week. The Clinical Practice Obstetrics Committee of Canada recommends that “all women without contraindications should be encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises as part of a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancy.”

    In general, participation in a wide range of recreational activities appears to be safe. Pregnant women just need to avoid those with a high risk of falling such as horseback riding or skiing, or those that carry a risk of abdominal trauma, such as soccer or hockey.

    In the past, the main concerns of exercise in pregnancy were focused on the fetus and any potential maternal benefit was thought to be offset by potential risks to the fetus. However, more recent information suggests that in the uncomplicated pregnancy, fetal injuries are highly unlikely.

    Contraindications for exercise include, vaginal bleeding, dyspnea before exertion, dizziness, headache, chest pain, muscle weakness, preterm labor, decreased fetal movement, amniotic fluid leakage, and calf pain or swelling (to rule out thrombophlebitis).

     

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