Prenatal exercise is a “therapy” that can reduce pregnancy complications.
In October, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology released updates to exercise in pregnancy guidelines for the first time in nearly 20 years.
According to Sinai Health’s Dr. Milena Forte, a family physician and one of the authors of the new guidelines, these guidelines represent a fundamental shift in how doctors think and talk about exercise with expectant moms.
“In the past, we felt confident saying, ‘It’s safe to exercise while pregnant,’” says Dr. Forte. “Now, thanks to an explosion of research studies over the last five years, we understand that not exercising during pregnancy puts you at higher risk for complications. Exercise isn’t just safe, it’s actually a therapy that we should be recommending to most women to ensure healthier pregnancies.”
Exercise can help reduce women’s risk of developing gestational diabetes, hypertension, preeclampsia, depression and urinary incontinence, among other conditions.
Benefits are greatest in people who are more sedentary, says Dr. Forte. In the past, she notes, doctors may have talked about exercise with patients who were already active; now “this changes who we focus on: We really need to counsel patients who haven’t exercised regularly to start being active. Just walking 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week is beneficial.”
Try adding these pregnancy-safe exercises to your daily routine, and work on building up to three sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise.
Exercise recommendations contributed by: Dr. Margie Davenport, Associate Professor, University of Alberta Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation | Illustrations by Sam Island