much is enough?
Most people view exercise as being a specific physical
activity that they engage in over and above their normal daily duties. However,
the average woman who has a home to run and perhaps small children to look after,
and who may also hold down a job outside the home, engages in a great deal of
physical exercise every day.
Pregnancy imposes a certain amount of extra strain
on the body, both from a physical and metabolic point of view, so some rest
is absolutely vital. Nevertheless, if a pregnancy is progressing normally there
is no reason why a woman should not continue with her usual daily duties, as
well as her regular exercise programme, if she has been doing this amount of
exercise for some time. It is not wise to significantly increase the level of
exercise taken in early pregnancy and reduced energy levels may necessitate
slowing down somewhat.
If you have any medical problems or develop any
complications in pregnancy, your doctor will advise you on changes in your levels
A physiotherapist, perhaps at your antenatal classes,
can show you a number of exercises specifically designed to strengthen and stretch
your spine and legs during pregnancy.
type of exercise is best?
Low impact exercise, which increases general fitness
is ideal during pregnancy. Two of the best exercises in this category are walking
and swimming, but a sensible approach to any form of exercise must be adopted.
Making the transformation from couch potato to an hour long class of high-impact
aerobics is ill-advised during pregnancy! However, gentle aerobic exercise will
maintain a good level of fitness which will make labour and the subsequent busy
time with a newborn easier to cope with.
In theory, very few pregnant women have either
the inclination or the energy to engage in strenuous physical exercise during
are the advantages of exercise?
As well as inducing a general feeling of wellbeing,
regular exercise helps to maintain a healthy body weight during pregnancy and
enables the body to maintain a high level of fitness in preparation for the
process of giving birth.
forms of exercise are harmful in pregnancy?
Horseback riding is not advisable during pregnancy.
Other exercises which are contra-indicated during pregnancy include:
- Waterskiing and snow skiing: waterskiing is
deemed as being inadvisable during pregnancy as a heavy fall may result in
miscarriage or premature labour. Similarly, a heavy fall during snow skiing
can have the same consequences. As the pregnancy advances, balance is affected
and this can result in accidental injury to those who are experienced at skiing.
- Diving: underwater diving is absolutely forbidden
in the later stages of pregnancy, although swimming underwater using a snorkel
can still be engaged in.
Saunas are to be avoided in pregnancy as the intense
heat of the sauna may cause dilation of the blood vessels which, in addition
to the low blood pressure that women experience during pregnancy, may cause
the woman to faint. If this shift of blood flow is prolonged, it can result
in reduction in the blood supply to the placenta.
Here are a few simple rules to follow when exercising:
- Never exercise if tired; relax.
- Do not hurry an exercise. If you are late, leave
- Never over-exercise or do two sessions in one.
- Avoid undue exertion.
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