Pointers for exercising during pregnancy

May 31, 2023 | Physio, Pilates

Pregnancy is such a precious time in a women’s life! A time when health for mom and baby is at its’ highest importance. Fortunately for you and your baby, we have a simple tool that provides a tremendous amount of physical health benefits…. exercise!

According to medical research, all women with uncomplicated pregnancies are strongly encouraged to continue an active lifestyle throughout pregnancy to support both maternal and foetal health. It is likely that pregnancy may cause you to slow down as your bump grows larger and your due date draws nearer, and that’s only natural. There are ways to keep you moving within safe and effective limits in order to maintain a good fitness level throughout your pregnancy. Exercising through the trimesters will also better prepare you for the birth of your baby and the postnatal recovery phase that follows.

We have a few pointers for exercising during pregnancy that may help you stay confident about moving your body:

Keep up the cardio

The World Health Organisation suggests pregnant women aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio exercise per week. That works out to 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week.

Doing something is better than doing nothing. So if you are new to cardio, try start with bite sized bouts of 10 minutes and gradually build yourself up over several weeks until you can meet 150 min per week. A quick stroll around the block will give you fresh air and help you meet your daily cardio goal!

If you partook in regular cardio exercise before pregnancy, then it may be safe for you to continue with your regular exercise schedule. We advise you consult a medical professional to learn about the associated risks, warning signs and exercise modifications that you may need to be aware of before continuing your usual cardio routine.

Tone down the strength

Although it is possible to gain physical strength during pregnancy there is no expectation for you to do so. It is safe to continue weighted and resisted upper and lower body training with the goal to maintain rather than to gain strength. Easing up on the intensity of a  progressive loading routine will lessen the forces placed on your joints and soft tissue, particulalry in your trunk, pelvis and abdominals, as they go through natural pregnancy-related physical changes.

It is strongly advised to avoid very heavy weightlifting and lifting techniques that require the ‘valsalva’ manoeuvre (a special breathing method in weightlifting that has the effect of slowing your heart rate down).

Modify from your 2nd Trimester

A vast number of physical changes set in from the moment you fall pregnant and begin to influence your body tissues right away. It is important to modify exercises where appropriate from the moment you find out you are expecting. The larger your bump grows the more your abdominal muscles begin to change shape and the more your centre of gravity shifts, because of this it is advised to reduce the amount of loading through your core.

Exercises such as curl ups, challenging planks, loaded double leg tabletops, leg lowers, and lean backs can all be modified to make it more comfortable for you and your growing bump. Instead, we introduce movements such as pelvic tilts, chest rotations, single leg tabletop or bent knee fall outs. These modifications have a similar focus on the targeted muscle group but with less loading or force through the trunk.

We highly recommend reaching out to your Physio or Prenatal trained Pilates instructor who can help modify exercises according to your trimester.

Take care of yourself

There are signs to look out for that may indicate your body is taking some strain. This may present as pain or discomfort in a certain area of the body like your lower back or hips, but can also come on as fatigue, headaches, sleepiness, or changes in your mood and concentration levels.

Overheating and dehydration can happen more easily in pregnancy while exercising. Please ensure you drink enough fluids before, during and after your workout. This amounts to between 8 and 12 cups of water a day (closer to 12 when exercising). Exercising in cooler times of the day may help, or in an air-conditioned room. Taking regular rest breaks during workouts that are more intense can better pace you through the session.

Pregnancy increases the amount of energy (calories) you need for daily tasks. Exercising regularly will only increase this need. A healthy, nourishing and delicious diet will help to keep your energy levels up for day-to-day activities, exercising and growing a healthy baby.  

ONFORM is here to help…

There are a few things to consider when exercising during your pregnancy, and although we have touched on a few above there is a lot more to what this blog has covered. We encourage you to reach out to one of the ONFORM Physio and Pilates team members should you want more information – we are always here to help!

For more content on a variety of topics surrounding pregnancy and exercise please follow our Prenatal Exercise series for more valuable guidelines on keeping yourself moving.