In the past, pregnant women were discouraged from exercise. Pregnancy was seen as a time to put your feet up and take it easy. But this historical view of pregnancy was very much based on cultural and social biases rather than scientific evidence.
These days, we’re increasingly recognising the benefits of regular physical activity during pregnancy: reduced fatigue, fewer physical discomforts of pregnancy and enhanced aerobic fitness, which is particularly important when considering that pregnancy culminates in labour and delivery of a baby – a physical endurance event like no other! Women who are active during pregnancy seem to have lower rates of medical intervention during labour.
There’s also the added benefits of reducing stress, anxiety and depression and avoiding excessive weight gain.
What type of exercise?
You might be surprised to learn that exercise guidelines for pregnant woman aren’t too dissimilar to those for the general population. In general, women with a healthy pregnancy (no complications) should aim for 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise three to five times per week. Aerobic exercise means low-impact activity such as brisk walking, stationary cycling and swimming or water-based exercise.