Pregnancy is a transformative journey, and maintaining an active lifestyle can be incredibly beneficial for both you and your baby. However, it's essential to do so safely and effectively. In this article, we'll explore the guidelines on strength training, cardio training, and direct core/abdominal training during pregnancy. We'll also debunk some common misconceptions to help you stay informed and make the best choices for your health and well-being.
Strength Training During Pregnancy Strength training is an excellent way to maintain and improve your muscle mass and overall strength during pregnancy. It can help alleviate common discomforts like back pain and improve your posture. Here are some guidelines and references to consider:
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women engage in muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days per week. Incorporating exercises that target major muscle groups is ideal. What exactly this looks like can take any form; three full body workouts, upper/lower split etc. Your only limitation is your imagination.
Additionally, a study published in the "American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology" found that resistance training during pregnancy can improve maternal health and well-being without adverse effects on foetal growth.
During Pregnancy Cardiovascular exercise is essential for maintaining your cardiovascular health, stamina, and energy levels. Here are some guidelines and references to consider:
ACOG recommends that pregnant women aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. It's important to choose low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or stationary cycling to reduce the risk of injury. Regular walks, hikes, cycles etc. all fit the bill nicely here
On a side note; pregnant or not, walking regularly is one of the most accessible, underutilised and effective ways of building and maintaining fitness.
Research published in "Obstetrics & Gynecology" suggests that regular aerobic exercise during pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of gestational diabetes and excessive weight gain.
Direct core/Abdominal Training During Pregnancy
Maintaining core strength can help prevent back pain and maintain good posture during pregnancy. However, this area requires special attention due to the growing uterus. Here's what you need to know:
Avoid traditional crunches and sit-ups, as these can strain the abdominal muscles. Instead, focus on exercises that engage the deeper core muscles, like pelvic tilts, planks, and modified Pilates moves. Anti rotation exercises like a Palof Press would fit the bill perfectly here along with an array of other anti rotation and anti extension (plank off of knees)exercises.
A study in the "Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy" found that pregnant women who participated in a core stabilization program experienced reduced pain and improved function.
Now, let's address some common misconceptions about exercise during pregnancy:
Myth: You should avoid exercise altogether.
Reality: Most pregnant women can and should engage in some form of exercise unless there are specific medical contraindications.
Myth: Exercise can harm the baby.
Reality: When done within recommended guidelines, exercise is not only safe but beneficial for both you and your baby. It can enhance foetal oxygenation and promote overall well-being.
Myth: You can continue your pre-pregnancy intensity.
Reality: Pregnancy is probably not the time to set personal records. You should adjust your exercise intensity and listen to your body. Often,especially in later stages, aiming for maintenance rather than progression is prudent.
Staying active during pregnancy is a wonderful way to support your health and well-being. By following the guidelines mentioned in this article and dispelling common misconceptions, you can ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy journey. If you have any concerns it’s best to consult your healthcare provider for further guidance.
(Reference: Clapp III, J. F. (2002). The effects of maternal exercise on fetal oxygenation and feto-placental growth. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 186(2), 142-145.)
(Reference: Zhang, C., Solomon, C. G., Manson, J. E., & Hu, F. B. (2006). A prospective study of pregravid physical activity and sedentary behaviours in relation to the risk for gestational diabetes mellitus. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 108(5), 1206-1212.)
(Reference: Akhtar, S., Thomson, A. M., & Patel, N. (2008). Pelvic girdle pain and low back pain in pregnancy: A study on the prevalence and risk factors. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 38(6), 317-322.)