Is Exercise During Pregnancy Helpful?

Broadly speaking, physical fitness can be seen as the capability to carry out a range of different exercises and everyday activities. It can be seen as the robustness of the body to handle fatigue, stress or change in health condition. With this in mind, physical fitness appears to be very relevant to the pregnant woman.

Budler and Budler (2022) completed a systematic review of randomised control studies from 2017 to 2022, to answer the question; how do exercise interventions improve the health of physically-active pregnant women and their infants? A total of twenty articles were evaluated.

The authors concluded that “physical activity is essential to maternal and infant health. Healthcare professionals should inform pregnant women about benefits of physical activity to prevent possible health issues.”

They also reported that “benefits for pregnant-women’s health and well-being were reported while performing aerobic exercise, lumbar stabilisation and stretching exercise, water exercise, nerve and tendon-glide exercise, resistance training and strength training.”

The authors recommended that pregnant women perform moderate intensity activities during the whole time of pregnancy, for all the exercise modalities listed above.   

Overall, numerous favourable health outcomes of physical activity during pregnancy were found. Recommendations given by practitioners to pregnant women were to focus on preforming at least 150-minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise, which involved the cardiovascular system.

Because continual adherence is reported to be a critical success factor for physical activity, having the health professional take a tailored and goal-oriented approach to the exercise prescription may drastically improve such adherence. 

Limitations of this study that were acknowledged include:  

  • A lack of context-dependency (i.e. age, previous physical activity levels, comorbidities, mental well-being and pregnancy status).
  • Only more-recent literature was studied.
  • No data processing software used.

Looking at things through the lens of physiology, several systems in the pregnant body come under duress during pregnancy. The skeleton has to bear more weight, the muscles have to transport this weight, the heart and lungs have to fuel the systems with oxygen despite the internal pressures, and the nerves have to function despite peripheral swelling. And last but not least, the mother’s metabolic resources are shared with the developing baby. So it appears logical that the pregnant women do her best to stay physically fit throughout her entire pregnancy.

(Medical Disclaimer: this is public education only and is not medical advice for any one individual. Please consult your registered health professional if it has been a while since exercising or if you have any concerns).

At Destiny Health, we offer Physio-PT to prescribe exercise programs for a range of health conditions such as pregnancy, and goals such as increased daily energy. We offer one-off programs, as well as weekly coaching. We also offer video-calls for ease of access.  

If you are a busy professional, parent, fatigued, stressed out and tired of falling off the ‘exercise bandwagon’ then we are here to help you. If you are serious and committed to results, then simply book your FREE ASSESSMENT today! You only pay if you agree with our prescription options and choose one for yourself.     

Reference: Budler, C. & Budler, M. Physical activity during pregnancy: a systematic review for the assessment of current evidence with future recommendations. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation (2022) 14:133