Top 5 Myths about Exercising while Pregnant
What exercises can you do when pregnant?
Disclaimer: during pregnancy you should always be cleared by your doctor prior to starting exercise and monitored throughout by a healthcare practitioner.
There are many myths surrounding exercising while pregnant, the big question being: is it safe for me to exercise while I’m pregnant? In this post, we look at the top 3 myths and explain the truth about them.
Myth #1: If you aren’t regularly exercising, you shouldn’t start activity during your pregnancy.
This is definitely false! Exercise is strongly recommended for all women regardless of previous activity level unless your physician has provided a specific reason not to
Doing 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week has been strongly associated with benefits for both mom and baby, including improved maternal health and decreased complications during pregnancy
Not sure where to start? Low impact activities like walking, swimming or stationary cycling can be a great way to start getting physically active during pregnancy
Myth #2: You need to keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute during exercise.
Nope, not true! This is old advice that was previously given to pregnant women with the (false) assumption that a heart rate of 140 beats per minute would be an accurate way to ensure women were exercising at a moderate level.
We now know that heart rate can fluctuate quite a bit during pregnancy and isn’t a necessarily a valuable indicator for a pregnant mama’s level of exertion.
A better marker is RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion). If you imagine a scale from 1 as “little or no activity” like laying on the couch and 10 as “maximal activity” similar to a flat out sprint, ideally you should be working within the 4-6 range. At this level you should feel like you can still talk comfortably, but slightly out of breath.
This is a general recommendation and may shift depending on your doctor’s recommendations and your pre-pregnancy level of activity- so make sure you get cleared first!
Myth #3: It isn’t safe to run during pregnancy.
Fear not, this is false! If you were a die-hard runner pre-pregnancy, running can still be a safe activity during pregnancy as well.
You may need to slow down a bit! It is recommended to run at a pace where you are still able to talk comfortably (4-6 on a RPE scale).
Always monitor for symptoms such as pain, urinary leakage, and pressure or heaviness in the perineal area. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is advised to seek the advice of a medical professional before continuing with running or any other exercise where these symptoms are experienced.
Remember to drink LOTS of water and invest in a great sports-bra!
Myth #4: Weightlifting is dangerous during pregnancy.
This is definitely a myth! Strength training in addition to aerobic exercise has been proven to be more effective than aerobic exercise alone at preventing pregnancy complications. It’s also a fantastic way for pregnant moms to prepare for all the lifting and carrying they will be doing once the baby is born!
That being said, pregnancy isn’t the time to try and increase your maximum lifts. Focus on a rep range that is comfortable to maintain and avoid the Valsalva maneuver (breath holding or bearing down) during lifting.
There is a lot of variability with what might work best for you during pregnancy based on your previous experience and stage of pregnancy. If in doubt, talk to an educated professional (such as a physiotherapist or kinesiologist!) who has education in this area.
Myth #5: It’s not safe to work your abdominal muscles during pregnancy.
Definitely false! A strong core (which includes the pelvic floor muscles!) can help with labor, delivery, and improve recovery after the birth as well.
While you won’t likely need to switch up your exercises in the first 12-16 weeks, during the second and third trimester you should avoid exercising flat on your back. Instead work on standing, seated, or side-lying exercises.
Be cautious if you note significant “doming up” or a “peak” in your abdominal muscles around your belly button. This might be a sign that the exercise you are doing is too difficult at the moment. If you have any questions or concerns, our kinesiologists or physiotherapists would be happy to help you find exercise modifications that will work the best for you.
Remember, this is just general information.
If you have specific medical conditions, are experiencing pain, or you’re just not sure where to start when it comes to exercise, please remember we’re here for you.
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