2019 Canadian Guideline for Physical Activity throughout Pregnancy

All around there is still a lot of confusion regarding this topic, the physical activity during Pregnancy is still seen as something of harmful.

What is the reality?

Physical activity during Pregnancy, should be considered a front-line therapy for reducing the risk of pregnancy complications, and enhancing maternal physical and mental health.

Eradicate some myths around this topic, physical activity is not associated with:

  • miscarriage,
  • stillbirth,
  • neonatal death,
  • preterm birth,
  • preterm/prelabour
  • rupture of membranes,
  • neonatal hypoglycemia,
  • low birth weight,
  • birth defects,
  • induction of labour,
  • birth complications.

What are instead the benefits of physical activity during Pregnancy?

1)Fewer new-born complications (i.e., large for gestational age);

2)Maternal health benefits:

  • decreased risk of preeclampsia,
  • gestational hypertension,
  • gestational diabetes,
  • caesarean section,
  • instrumental delivery,
  • urinary incontinence,
  • excessive gestational weight gain,
  • improved blood glucose,
  • decreased severity of depressive symptoms,
  • decreased severity lumbopelvic pain.

This guideline provides 6 key points:

  1. All women without contraindication should be physically active throughout pregnancy. It means all in the same way? Certainly no, a lot depends on the previous level of physical activity.
  2. Pregnant women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week to achieve the above-mentioned benefit. Same here depending on the previous level of activity the intensity and the time should be adjusted.
  3. Physical activity should be accumulated over a minimum of three days per week; however, being active every day is encouraged. Then we will have a minimum of physical activity for 50min for 3 times a week.
  4. Pregnant women should incorporate a variety of aerobic and resistance training activities to achieve greater benefits.Adding yoga and/or gentle stretching may also be beneficial.This point underlines the need to have a complete training program, without be fearful to use weight training during the Pregnancy.
  5. Pelvic floor muscle training (e.g., Kegel exercises) may be performed on a daily basis to reduce the risk of urinary incontinence. Instruction in proper technique is recommended to obtain optimal benefits. A good book regarding Kegel exercises is this one: https://amzn.to/2L6jROK
  6. Pregnant women who experience light headedness, nausea or feel unwell when they exercise flat on their back should modify their exercise position to avoid the supine position.

References:

Mottola MF et al(2019), Canadian guideline for physical activity throughout pregnancy

doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-100056