Exercise is ‘critical’ for healthy pregnancy

By Hollie Ewers on 19 October 2018 Pregnancy and Weight Management Evidence-Based Practice

Physical activity in pregnancy is a ‘critical component’ of achieving a healthy pregnancy, Canadian guidance claims.

The guidelines suggest that keeping active during pregnancy leads to fewer complications, better physical and emotional wellness for the mother and better outcomes for the baby.

To achieve the health benefits, the guidance encourages pregnant women who have no medical restrictions to achieve at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, and to exercise for a minimum of three days per week.

It claims that even greater benefits can be achieved if the woman is active every day and incorporates a variety of aerobic and resistance training activities. The cumulative 150 minutes of activity can include walking, swimming, stationary cycling and resistance training.

The evidence-based pregnancy and physical activity guideline was led by Western University professor Michelle Mottola and launched jointly by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

It’s suggested that those who follow the guideline could reduce the risk of pregnancy-related illness such as depression by at least 25%, and reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and preeclampsia by 40%.

Co-lead author and professor of kinesiology at Western University Michelle Mottola said: ‘By examining and reviewing more than 25,000 previous studies we were able to develop guidelines that outline the right amount of physical activity women should get throughout pregnancy to promote maternal, fetal and neonatal health.

‘These findings mark a shift in our thinking regarding physical activity during pregnancy. We have moved from looking it as a recommended behaviour to it being a critical component of achieving a healthy pregnancy.’

Access the guidelines here.