Physical activity for Pregnancy
Just yesterday (October 18, 2018), new Canadian guidelines were released regarding physical activity throughout pregnancy. The main details are presented below in Q and A format.
Who put together the guidelines?
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology - the leading organization of exercise scientists in Canada.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.
University of Western Ontario
Universite du Quebec a Trois-Rivieres
University of Alberta
Is physical activity important for pregnancy?
“Physical activity is now seen as a critical part of a healthy pregnancy.”
“Prenatal physical activity should be considered a front-line therapy for reducing the risk of pregnancy complications, and enhancing maternal physical and mental health.”
How can physical activity potentially help with pregnancy?
It can reduce the risk of:
pregnancy-related depression by 25%
high blood pressure
preeclampsia by 40%
excessive gestational weight gain
How much physical activity is recommended?
At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week
Minimum 3 days per week
Daily physical activity is encouraged
Incorporate a variety of aerobic and resistance training activities
Pelvic floor exercises reduce risk of urinary incontinence (inability to control urination)
If you get lightheaded, nauseous or feel unwell when exercising flat on the ground. should avoid the supine position.
There may be periods when following the guidelines are not possible due to fatigue and/or discomforts of pregnancy; women are encouraged to do what they can and to return to following the recommendations when they are able.
Are there misconceptions about the dangers of physical activity?
“Physical activity is not associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, preterm birth, preterm/prelabour rupture of membranes, neonatal hypoglycemia, low birth weight, birth defects, induction of labour, or birth complications.”
However, evidence was not identified regarding the safety or additional benefit of exercising at levels significantly above the recommendations.
People with the following conditions should absolutely not perform exercise:
placenta previa after 28 wks gestation
unexplained persistent vaginal bleeding
intrauterine growth restriction
high-order multiple pregnancy (eg. triplets)
uncontrolled type 1 diabetes
uncontrolled thyroid disease
other serious cardiovascular, respiratory or systemic disorder
People with the following conditions should consult with their obstetric care provider prior to participation in physical activity:
recurrent pregnancy loss
a history of spontaneous preterm birth
mild/moderate cardiovascular or respiratory disease
twin pregnancy after the 28th week
other significant medical condition
It seems that physical activity is beneficial and safe for pregnancy. However, it is important to consult with your health care provider before engaging in physical activity.
To read the full guidelines, click here