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Complete guide to physical exercise in pregnancy

Complete guide to physical exercise in pregnancy


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Only in Spain the study carried out by Amezcua (2013), affirms that 68.6% of pregnant women perform some type of physical activity in their free time before and during pregnancy.

However, playing sports is highly beneficial for pregnant women. On our site we present everything you need to know in this complete guide on physical exercise in pregnancy.

During pregnancy, at the level of ligaments and joints, there is stretching, weakness and separation of the abdominal muscles (diastasis recti), which prevents maintaining a neutral posture. Furthermore, more instability is created in the lumbar spine and can predispose to muscle tension.

Everyone physical changes during pregnancy can cause lower back and pelvic pain Furthermore, pregnant women are at greater risk of suffering a joint injury, such as sprains and strains.

Research over the last thirty years has shown that sport can have multiple benefits to avoid lower back pain, pelvic pain and injuries. Of course, it is important to take into account all the physical, biomechanical and morphological changes to plan the most appropriate sport, its intensity, frequency and duration.

In any case before starting a training program A clinical evaluation should be done to ensure that there is no medical reason to avoid exercise.

Physical exercise before and after pregnancy helps improve fetal heart rate, increases the number of cells in the umbilical cord blood, which improves cardiovascular status, helps reduce the number of cesarean sections and instrumental deliveries, improves function of the bones, helps to eliminate fat accumulated in pregnancy, stimulates the immune system, reduces stress, increases self-esteem and produces a feeling of well-being.

Despite all the benefits of moderate sport during pregnancy, there are some cases in which it is totally contraindicated:

  • Major heart disease.
  • Restrictive lung disease.
  • Cervical incompetence / cerclage.
  • Multiple pregnancy with risk of preterm delivery.
  • Placenta previa after 26 weeks of gestation.
  • Threat of premature labor in the current pregnancy.
  • Membrane rupture.
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension / pre-eclampsia.
  • Severe anemia

In some cases, although it is not totally contraindicated, if it requires that the sport be adapted to the pregnant woman, these are:

  • Anemia.
  • Maternal arrhythmia not evaluated.
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Morbid obesity.
  • BMI
  • Extreme sedentary lifestyle.
  • Delayed intrauterine growth of the baby.
  • Poorly controlled hypertension.
  • Orthopedic limitations.
  • Poorly controlled epilepsy.
  • Poorly controlled hyperthyroidism.
  • Big smoker.
  • Painful, regular contractions - Could be a threat of preterm labor.
  • Loss of amniotic fluid.
  • Dyspnea before exercise.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headache
  • Chest pain.
  • Muscle weakness that affects balance.
  • Signs of thrombophlebitis.

Some exercises or sports are highly recommended by experts to maintain good health, such as walking, swimming, stationary cycling, low-impact aerobic activities, yoga adapted to pregnancy or Pilates for pregnant women.

On the contrary, there are activities that should be abandoned during pregnancy to avoid falls, blows, hypotension or excessive heart rate: strength training, contact sports (hockey, boxing, soccer, basketball) or sports with risk of falls (skiing, surfing , cycling, gymnastics, horse riding). Diving, parachuting, or bikram yoga is also not recommended.

When choosing the right sport and intensity, it is important to know the woman's history, as follows:

  • Previously active women- May still be active, although intensity should not exceed pre-pregnancy levels.
  • Pregnant women who previously trained at high intensity: There is no set safe limit. Women who previously trained at high intensity should be able to continue training without adverse effects
  • Pregnant women who previously engaged in prolonged physical exercise: in these cases it is necessary to be careful with hypoglycemia (an optimal calorie intake must be carried out) and with dehydration. In addition, training at elevated temperatures is contraindicated.

Source: FAROS report, Hospital Sant Joan de Deu (Barcelona)

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