Until recently, it was believed that physical exercise was negative for a pregnant woman, since, in theory, it could compromise the development of the baby. Currently, a series of investigations that we will discuss in this article has confirmed that this hypothesis is not true.
Certain exercises not only do not cause any harm to the fetus but, on the contrary, can even improve labor conditions and prevent certain pathologies during pregnancy. For example, preeclampsia and high blood pressure associated with pregnancy.
What physical exercise can a pregnant woman do?
Before starting to speak specifically about the recommendations, it is important to highlight that all of them must be individualized. In other words, each pregnant woman must take into account her condition and experience to exercise.
What is beneficial to some people in terms of health, can harm others if they have a lower physical condition or some previous pathology. For this reason, it is essential to always consult a specialist to develop a customized plan.
First of all, one of the most recommended sports during pregnancy is swimming. Not only has the one done traditionally, but any exercise program done in the water can be beneficial. They help strengthen the dorsal and lumbar muscles while reducing back pain.
Furthermore, one area of the body is highly recommended to exercise: the pelvic floor. To do this, it is proposed that the woman perform Kegel contractions. They help strengthen the pelvic muscles and also decrease urinary incontinence.
A sedentary lifestyle has many negative consequences for anyone. Therefore, moderate cardiovascular exercise also has a benefit in pregnant women. For example, walks and stationary bike sessions are recommended.
This has been one of the most controversial issues regarding physical exercise for pregnant women. However, a study published in the Andalusian Journal of Sports Medicine states that they can help improve labor and subsequent recovery.
Also, it has been found that, by exercising certain muscle groups, a series of discomforts that are frequently associated with pregnancy are reduced. For example, low back pain. In this way, work on the abdominal muscles and hips is indicated.
However, you should avoid using free weight or heavy resistance. Ideally, work with machines or elastic bands, since they reduce the risk of injury. Also, shorter sets with higher repetitions are preferred.
What physical exercise should a pregnant woman avoid?
The truth is that, just as the previous exercises during pregnancy can have benefits, there are others that, in general, are associated with more risks and complications. Doctors recommend avoiding all those sports that can cause trauma to the baby, such as:
- Contact or ball sports: soccer, basketball, or volleyball.
- Those with a high risk of falls: skiing, cycling, horse riding, or climbing.
- Demanding activities: those that raise the pulsations too much, such as athletics or bodybuilding.
As we have pointed out, before exercising, a pregnant woman must be aware of her physical state. The sport cannot be approached in the same way in a sedentary pregnant woman before, as in one who was physically active. The same happens with those that present some pathology.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Research in Gynecology and Obstetrics concludes that physical exercise reduces the risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Similarly, she claims that swimming decreases the incidence of preterm births.
Furthermore, there is currently insufficient evidence that complications arise from physical exercise in pregnant women. Of course, it must be done properly and choose the type of sport to be done well.
What to remember about sports and pregnancy?
We must keep in mind that physical exercise is beneficial in many aspects, both physically and mentally. The myth that a pregnant woman should only rest and avoid moving should be eliminated because this can bring more negative than positive consequences.
The most recommended exercises are those that have low impact and that help strengthen the muscles. For example, swimming or exercise bike. All of them should be done in a moderate way, always taking into account each woman’s conditions and the pregnancy itself.