Pregnant women are not doing enough exercise and should be encouraged to focus on their physical fitness, according to new Australian research.
All pregnant women who are free of medical or obstetric complications should work towards 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week, says Queensland researcher Mel Hayman, whose paper is due to be published next month.
She says strength training should be performed at least twice a week, with all major muscle groups worked over 12-15 repetitions with submaximal weights. Submaximal weight training uses weights that are 65-85% of the maximum weight that you can lift, which allows you to train with more repetitions and at less risk of injury. Submaximal weight training means being able to complete the set number of repetitions and still have some capacity left over to do more.
Ms Hayman recently authored national fact sheets and guidelines for Sports Medicine Australia.
“. . . we know pregnant women are not exercising enough and it’s a real concern because physical activity is directly linked to the health outcomes of the baby.”
Ms Hayman says being sedentary while pregnant increases the risk of childhood obesity and premature heart disease.
“What we do know is that for healthy pregnant women it’s absolutely safe for them to participate in exercise and that ideally it should be of moderate intensity.”
She says pregnant women who have previously been inactive are encouraged to work towards an accumulation of 150 minutes a week and to build from there, while active women can continue their regular exercise regime “while the body allows it”.
5 exercise suggestions for healthy pregnant women:
- exercise before, during and after pregnancy;
- aim to exercise for 30 mins a day and towards an accumulation of 150 mins per week of moderate intensity;
- two sessions per week of sub-maximal strength training are also recommended;
- if previously inactive, start an exercise routine; and
- avoid activities that may result in heavy impact or require very high levels of coordination and/or balance, as well as scuba diving and high altitude training.
Amanda Davey 26 June 2015