When pregnant, you may seek out exercise programs for several reasons. You may feel self-conscious about your changing body, be concerned about having a healthy baby, want to stay in shape during your pregnancy, want to be able to handle the rigors of labour and delivery, or need additional social interactions and support during this phase of your life.
If you were physically active pre-pregnancy, you may continue, with the appropriate medical advice participating in appropriately adjusted sessions of physical activity to maintain cardiovascular and muscular fitness during pregnancy and post-partum.
If you were previously sedentary, you may also benefit from regular exercise during pregnancy although a program that is consistent with your physical capabilities would involve additional support, motivation, and professional guidance.
In all cases, being pregnant and wanting a personal trainer from Tiger Athletic, you will be required to consult with your health care provider before we can design or initiate you in an exercise program or modify your current exercise program.
Recommendations regards exercise during pregnancy relate to three key concerns:
- Insufficient oxygen or energy substrates to the foetus
- Hyperthermia, induced foetal distress or birth abnormalities
- Increased uterine contractions
A well-designed fitness program with correct assessment, doctor advice, additional support and motivation should pose a low risk for these problems in uncomplicated pregnancies.
Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
Most pregnant women who follow their doctor recommendations can attain maternal health and fitness benefits. The following are some of the benefits for pregnant women who engage in exercise and follow their health care providers recommendations in a properly designed prenatal exercise program. (adapted from ACSM 2000, reference 4):
- Improved cardiovascular and muscular fitness
- Facilitated recovery from labor
- Faster return to prepregnancy weight, strength and flexibility levels
- Reduced post-partum belly
- Reduced back pain during pregnancy
- Increased energy reserve
- Fewer obstetric interventions
- Shorter phase of active labor and less pain
- Less weight gain
- Enhanced maternal psychological wellbeing that may reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression associated with being pregnant
- Increased likelihood of adopting permanent, healthy lifestyle habits
- Participation in an exercise program may also be beneficial in the primary prevention of gestational diabetes. The effects of regular exercise training on insulin secretion, insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism may improve glucose tolerance.
In the absence of either medical or obstetric complications, exercise during pregnancy appears to be associated with many of the physical and health benefits typically observed in non-pregnant women.
The following exercise guidelines from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists apply to women who would like personal training from Tiger Athletic and do not have additional risk factors for adverse maternal or prenatal outcome. (Adapted from International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics 2002, reference 3):
- 30 to 45 minutes of moderate exercise up to 6 days per week
- Avoid exercise in the supine position after the first trimester
- Exercise should not continue past point of fatigue or reach exhaustion
- Non-weight bearing exercise such as cycling, and stretching are favoured for reducing injury risk and continuing the program throughout pregnancy
- Exercises that present potential for even mild abdominal trauma are avoided, as well as activities that present a high risk for loss of balance or falling are discontinued prior to the third trimester.
- Large increases in body temperature are minimised through adequate hydration, appropriate clothing and optimal environmental surroundings during exercise.
- The many physiologic and morphologic changes of pregnancy persist 4 to 6 weeks post-partum, exercise programs should be resumed gradually after giving birth.
Tiger Athletic Fitness & Conditioning is a modern, private, appointment only strength & conditioning gym in the heart of Sandton. Our custom exercise programs stem from personalised assessments, strength & conditioning, motivation and education.
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