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Exercise in pregnancy by Jessica Dumay (PT and Rem Massage Therapist) and Dr Zeinah Keen (Osteopath)

Exercise during pregnancy is beneficial on many different levels. Evidence suggests that fitter pregnant women have less chance of developing obesity, Gestational Diabetes, Pre-Eclampsia, lower back pain and are more likely to experience an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, recover faster (post section and vaginal birth) and have less chance of developing post-natal depression (St. George, F & Elliot, P 2014)
During the pregnancy many physiological changes occur
Heart Rate: increases in the 1st trimester as the body works harder to deal with the new foetus. It normalises in the 2nd trimester. There an increase in blood volume in the 3rd trimester which makes it hard to elevate your heart rate.
Respiration: shortness of breath is likely to occur as your expanding abdomen pushes up against the diaphragm (main breathing accessory muscle). Also as many women can become anaemic in pregnancy. These factors alone will cause shortness of breath and an elevated respiration rate at rest.
Circulation: increases due to a 30-50% increase in blood volume.
Hormones: The hormone Relaxin is produced during pregnancy to increase the laxity of the ligaments in the pelvis. Unfortunately the hormone is unable to distinguish pelvic ligaments alone and therefore joint laxity can be an issue. Pregnant women are at increased risk of musculo-skeletal injury in pregnancy
Workout changes
The exercise that’s right for you will depend on your fitness experience. If you are healthy and active pre-pregnancy then it is likely that you can continue with your current routine. Try to avoid exercising to exhaustion. This can lead to overtraining symptoms, such as fatigue, injury and poor performance.
Warm-Up: the warm-up and cool-down should be more gradual than normal to avoid elevating blood pressure.
Cool-Down: It is advisable to hold a stretch for only 10 seconds as opposed to the usual recommenced 30-40 seconds due to the Relaxin hormone. Avoiding overstretching will reduce likelihood of spraining those ligaments.
Balance: your centre of gravity and gross motor skills are going to be a bit skewwhiff. Work on body awareness and control with mobilising moves during the warm up.
Exercise choice: The best aerobic exercises are low-impact particularly during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Choose activities that use large muscle groups, such as walking, cycling, swimming, aqua workouts or low-impact aerobics. For weight training you may prefer to use machines to reduce the fear of maternal-foetal injury. Do not lie on your back from the 2nd trimester and avoid overhead or isometric (holding) moves in the 3rd trimester.
For more information about exercising in pregnancy, contact Jess or Zeinah on 02 9452 2292.
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