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Physical exercise in pregnancy: what precautions to take and what activities are the most recommended

Exercising during pregnancy is essential to have good physical and mental health, avoid complications, overweight and arrive at the time of delivery in good shape. It is also beneficial for the baby, since maternal sport favors its neuromotor development, regulates its heart rate and improves the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the placenta.

But it is necessary to follow certain recommendations to practice sports safely during pregnancy, as well as to know when it is better to start, what type of sport is the most recommended and what other important tips to take into account.

SEGO recommendations for exercising during pregnancy

According to the Clinical Guide for physical exercise during pregnancy prepared by the SEGO (Spanish Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics), these are the main recommendations that you should take into account to exercise during pregnancy:

Always exercise, unless there is a medical contraindication

All pregnant women should be physically active during their pregnancy, unless there is some type of medical contraindication. Contraindications can be of two types:

  • Absolute (exercise is always contraindicated) : heart failure, thrombophlebitis or recent pulmonary thromboembolism, multiple gestation, fetal macrosomia, suspected fetal distress or delayed intrauterine growth, vaginal bleeding, risk of premature delivery, ruptured bag …
  • Relative (it must be the medical professional who assesses the risk / benefit of practicing physical exercise) : arterial hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disease, previous recurrent abortions, hematological disorders, bronchitis, obesity, arrhythmias or palpitations, traumatic limitations …

Daily exercise, never occasional

The exercise should be regular, never occasional. In this sense, the SEGO recommends the practice of daily physical exercise for 30-45 minutes, or even one hour a day if the exercise is walking.

However, pregnant women should accumulate at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity, developed on (at least) three days a week. However, despite the recommendations, the percentage of women who meet this condition is barely between 15-20%.

Moderate intensity exercise

The exercise carried out by the pregnant woman should be of moderate intensity, that is, one that allows her to speak without fatigue while doing it or raise her pulse to less than 140 beats per minute.

This type of exercise provides health benefits without compromising maternal-fetal well-being, while reducing the possibility of complications during pregnancy.

Aerobic exercises

The type of activities to be carried out should tend to improve the aerobic resistance of the pregnant woman , as well as help to develop muscular strength, promote balance, motor coordination, flexibility and the work of the pelvic floor.

What sports and exercise postures are the most recommended during pregnancy?

Among the exercises most recommended by the SEGO would be walking (it is classified by experts as “the most important exercise, good for all pregnant women” ), swimming, to mobilize all the muscles of the body, riding a bicycle avoiding competition, running , as long as this sport is not started during pregnancy, and practice directed physical activities, such as Pilates, dance or gymnastics. They also recommend including Kegel exercises in the daily routine, as it is a very beneficial activity for the health of the pelvic floor.

In general, the SEGO advises against impact and contact sports (for example, football, ruby, combat sports, athletics …), those that pose a risk of injury, fall or trauma (mountaineering, diving, skiing. ..), strenuous exercises and hypopressive exercises, as they increase intra-abdominal pressure.

Likewise, it is advisable to avoid sudden movements and positions of extreme muscle tension , as well as positions that overload certain areas that are already often affected during pregnancy.

In this sense, the exercises performed in a sitting position -particularly those performed on a fitball- quadruped (provided that this posture is alternated with other recommended ones) or lateral decubitus are the most recommended.

Therefore, exercises in the supine position (face up) would be discouraged -except in the case of gentle exercises that do not last beyond two or three minutes-, and neither abuse of the exercises performed standing up, especially in the third trimester.

What to keep in mind before starting to exercise during pregnancy

In addition to everything mentioned, the SEGO advises to take into account the following recommendations before starting to exercise:

  • Avoid playing sports if it is very hot or there is a high degree of humidity in the environment, as high temperatures increase the risk of suffering discomfort during pregnancy.
  • Try to do the exercise in the morning, between 10 and 11 hours.
  • Eat and hydrate properly before exercise.
  • Do sports with comfortable, loose and breathable clothing.
  • Practice warm-up exercises before doing sports and stretching exercises afterwards, in order to avoid muscle injuries.

Exercise should be stopped immediately in the event of pain of any kind (in the back, pubis, chest …), dizziness, initial sensation of shortness of breath, muscle weakness or difficulty walking, tachycardia, vaginal bleeding, contractions or decreased fetal movements.

Many physiological and morphological changes in pregnancy persist up to four or six weeks after delivery, so from that moment on, the exercise programs that were done before pregnancy should be gradually resumed according to the physical capacity of each woman, and always with medical consent.

Via | SEGO – Exercise During Pregnancy, Clinical Guidelines for Physical Exercise During Pregnancy

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