Exercise during pregnancy

As a Fitness Professional who specialises in exercise before (and after) baby is born I often get asked which type of exercise is best during the pregnancy.  Here are my three most common questions, and my answer to them.

Q1)  I want to run throughout my pregnancy, is that ok?

Answer – I always recommend ladies do what they enjoy but here are a few things to consider – high intensity, high impact exercise like running is not recommended during pregnancy.  Due to the hormone relaxin being released into the body this can result in pelvic issues around the sacro iliac joint and pubic synthesis.  As baby increases in size any high impact activity can be detrimental to the pelvic floor.  Running is not the only exercise to avoid during pregnancy.  Star jumps, skipping, trampolining and running (anything high impact) are all best replaced by deep water running, walking, cycling, swimming, light weight training and aqua aerobics.

Q2)  If I strengthen my abs will this reduce the chance of abs separating?

Answer – Short answer NO, it will increase it.  Read on . . . First I’d like to ensure when we are talking abs you mean the front outer most rectus abdominals or ‘6 pack muscles, not the deeper wrap around core muscles.  Current research recommends you cease sit up type exercises at about the 4 month mark.  This is for 2 reasons 1) it increases the risk of ab separation and 2) lying on your back is not recommended as the weight of the baby can put pressure on your vena carvae – the large vein returning blood to the heart.   Continuing to do sit ups increases your likelihood of abs separating, and/or  the pelvic floor bulging.   ‘Something’ has got to ‘give’ to allow for the space your baby is now taking up.

Here’s what to do instead

Get on all fours and draw the rectus abdominals up towards the spine like you are trying to put on a pair of tight fitting trousers.  Engage the pelvic floor too.  Hold for a count of 10, rest and repeat 4-6 times once a day.  This simple exercise not only ensures the rectus abdominals keep their tone, but it is helpful in regaining core tone after baby is born.

Q3)  How intensely can I exercise and it be safe for my unborn baby?

Answer – Pregnancy is a stage where the emphasis should be on maintaining health and wellness.  If you can exercise and talk you are at the right intensity and this is defined as moderate intensity and up to 150 minutes each week is recommended.  If you like your exercise a little more intensely the recommendations state   75 minutes over a week is the limit.

I could write for pages on this, so ring me if you have further questions Jo 0409 862206.  More information can be found at http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/pregnancy_and_exercise

Jo Cordell-Cooper runs the twice award winning business Active Solutions and Health Network, specialising in women of all ages and stages.