As a woman, and being in the area of physical exercise and health, I find it particularly interesting to be able to prescribe and monitor the training of pregnant women, due to all the changes associated with it.
Firstly, it’s essential to have authorization from the obstetrician. Sedentary women show a greater decline in physical condition during pregnancy, so it’s worth mentioning the benefits of training at this stage.
Benefits of exercise in pregnancy:
• Improves the woman's emotional and mental health during and after pregnancy;
• Prevents excessive weight gain;
• It helps in preventing the risk of gestational diabetes;
• It helps in loss of energy / fatigue;
• Increases the mobility;
• Reduce the intensity of low back pain;
• Aid for childbirth / recovery;
• Decreases the risk of depression.
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All women who don’t have contraindications should be encouraged to do exercise, both aerobically, as well as strength and stretching. Pelvic muscle exercises are beneficial in preventing pregnancy-associated urinary incontinence.
Based on research in the area of physical exercise and pregnancy, Sports Medicine Australia has developed the following recommendations:
• In pregnant women who are already active, maintain aerobic exercise at moderate intensity during pregnancy;
• Avoid training with a heart rate above 140 bpm. Exercise three to four times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. In athletes it’s possible to exercise at higher intensities, safely;
• Resistance exercises should also be moderated. Avoid maximum isometric contractions;
• Avoid exercises in the supine position;
• Avoid exercise in hot environments and very heated pools;
• As long as an adequate amount of calories is consumed, exercise and breastfeeding are compatible;
• Immediately discontinue sports if symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramps, vaginal bleeding, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, palpitations and visual disturbances appear;
There is no specific type of exercise that should be recommended during pregnancy, so, the pregnant woman who already exercises can maintain the practice she is used to, respecting the care previously described.
If you are not used to training, or have never done it, you should seek the assistance of a professional. The ideal would be to start training before thinking about becoming pregnant.
By Lígia Alves, Personal Trainer at Academia Bodylab
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Garshasbi A, Faghih Zadeh S: The effect of exercise on the intensity of low back pain in pregnant women. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 88: 271-5, 2005.
Davies GA, Wolfe LA, Mottola MF, et al: Exercise in pregnancy and the postpartum period. J Obstet Gynaecol Can 25: 516-29, 2003.
Bennell K: The female athlete. In: Brukner P, Khan K: Clinical sports medicine, 2.a ed, Austrália, McGraw-Hill, 2001. p. 674-99.
[No authors listed]: SMA statement. The benefits and risks of exercise during pregnancy. J Sci Med Sport 5: 11-9, 2005