Exercise during pregnancy3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Pregnant women benefit greatly from exercise during pregnancy, for at least 30 minutes a day, preferably every day of the week. The exercise during the first and second trimester should be at a moderate level, making you warm and sweaty. Equivalent to brisk walking.
The research regarding exercise during pregnancy
Above recommendation is the result of lack of research regarding vigorous intensity exercise during the first and second trimester. If you want to read more about the recommendations of first trimester workout‘s, click on the link!
However, vigorous intensity exercise completed into the third trimester appears to be safe for most healthy pregnancies. You can read the research article here!
The hormonal changes in the body will relax the body’s ligaments and joints. This relaxation occurs especially in the pelvis but also in other parts of the body. The hormone responsible for this is called Relaxin and has its first peak in the first trimester and another peak close to birth.
All pregnant women get this hormone increase which is primarily aimed at widening the pelvis and facilitating the baby’s passage through the pelvis. However, this relaxation may cause pain in the pelvis (pelvic girdle pain) which can be an unpleasant side effect of pregnancy.
As the uterus and baby grows, the pelvis is tipped forward which results in a strain on the lumbar spine. This can cause lower back pain and sharp pain when doing certain movements. The latter often comes from stretched ligaments. For both pelvic girdle pain and low back pain, certain prehab or rehab exercises have been shown to have an aiding effect.
Exercise during pregnancy – What to avoid?
- Any type of exercise that causes back pain or pelvic girdle pain should be avoided. Exercises that often cause this type of pain are exercises involving unilateral (one-sided) loading like walking with fast and long steps or exercises where the legs are kept very wide apart. Also exercises that are heavy for the back may result in back pain. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t even try these exercises. Try them out if you want to and take a note at how it feels. And then adapt!
- When it comes to exercises for the core, it is wise to avoid exercises on the back after week 16 (due to the risk of vein cava syndrome, a decrease in blood pressure due to uterine pressure on blood vessels). There are plenty of core exercises in other positions though. You’ll find our favorites here: Pregnancy ab workout.
The goal for exercise during pregnancy should be, if possible, to maintain stamina and strength. Not to set personal records in any way or push yourself to your limit. A great challenge for many women who are used to exercising is to accept the limitations that the pregnant body may present. To help you adapt to the new, transforming reality you might have to set new goals. Instead of trying to be an overachiever, constantly aiming to win over yesterday’s version of yourself, aim to get fit for birth. Learn how to relax and contract your pelvic floor muscles, build strong inner abdominal muscles, work on your pregnancy posture and your breathing technique.
If your pregnancy is free from complications and you are otherwise healthy, there is no problem for your body to “withstand” the physiological demands of exercise at moderate intensity. And most important of all, exercise at moderate intensity is not a risk factor for your child.
Always consult with your doctor or midwife to get an all clear before starting a new workout routine.
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