Need for Exercise during Pregnancy


The physiological and psychological changes that come with pregnancy make some pregnant woman sick and very uncomfortable particularly within the first few months, while on rare cases all through the period of pregnancy. Many believe that this is the reason why the woman one talks about the pregnant woman taking part in exercise. Even many medical practitioners share the same view. But studies such as the one conducted by Artal and Toole (2003) have shown that exercising good for the pregnant mother and also the foetus, if the pregnancy is certified not to be complicated. The health benefits of exercising during pregnancy are far greater than its side effects, if the activities are of low intensity, and are performed under trained personnel. Exercise among other benefits is found to reduce stress, oedema, lower back pain, pregnancy induced high blood pressure, pregnancy induced diabetes, the time of labor, and over weight in the pregnant woman. Observing the principles of exercise will help the pregnant woman exercise safely for her well-being and that of the foetus. This work is for the benefits of every body and the pregnant ones in particular, for most of problems they experience during pregnancy and in the time of labour could either be prevented or reduced to a minimum level if they exercise. The medical PR actioners (especially doctors and midwives) also stand to gain from this work.


The Need for Exercise during Pregnancy
Every woman, being pregnant is a fulfilling phenomenon, and if carried to the term, its joy is not quantifiable. It is the expectation of every married couple, especially the woman; and because of this, it has to be guarded with all our might. According to Chukwu-Obeny (2009), steps must be taken to protect and keep the pregnancy. He said that these measures include healthy dieting, adequate rest, and of course, regular but moderate exercise.
Exercising during pregnancy has always been treated as if it is a monster by almost everybody, even among healthcare givers, who actually ought to be promoting its course. This is so because the larger society do not know how beneficial it is to exercise, not to talk about exercising during pregnancy. Even greater percentage of our medical doctors know little about the health benefits of excursing during pregnancy and as such are not in any position to counsel expectant mothers properly in this issue and its safety.
Naturally, all over the world, pregnant women have always been treated as fragile beings. It is this negative feeling that puts fear of spontaneous abortion in the minds of women when they are heavy with pregnancy. So, they worry about losing their pregnant while exercising. They never get the kind of assurance they get when the physician is prescribing during. Women are always afraid to exercise even when the where very active before they became pregnant by “don’t do any strenuous activity” by people. Pregnant women should not be treated as if they are fragile invalids that would break down into pieces if exposed to exercise (Agha and Duroshola, 2002).
In spite of results of some studies, may still believe that a woman who is pregnant should spend the whole nine months lying on the couch and resting comfortably Medical doctors fear and believe that participating in some bouts of aerobics or jogging could destroy the fetus, therefore, will always counsel these women to keep off exercise, even to active athletes. Clemency, Baildam, Bell, Baildam and Bull (2002) observed that the health rules for the pregnant woman is the same with every other individual: healthy eating, daily moderate exercise, adequate rest, avoidance of poisons and a cheerful frame of mind. But among these variables, in our homes and health institutions, only exercise is intentionally and recklessly deleted from those basic principles of holistic health maintenance, particularly during pregnancy (Chukwu-Obeny, 2009).

Health Benefits of Exercise in Pregnant

Regular moderate exercise of at least 30 minutes most days of the week is recommended for pregnant women (Artal and Toole, 2003). The benefits include:
1) Boosting of Energy: Being pregnant comes with general body tiredness, but exercise increases the energy level during pregnancy said Shealy (1991) and Curtis and Fraser (2003) by stimulating the vitality.
2) Efficiency of the Lymphatic System: Exercise according to Curtis and Frazer (2003), and Widdowson (2001) increases the efficiency of the lymphatic drainage, thus, eliminating toxins from the body, and reducing fluid retention (Oedema).
3) Muscular Tissue Conditioning: Exercise tones the muscles, particularly those that would be much employed during labour and delivery, (muscles, of the back abdomen and legs) increasing their strength and endurance capability (Wolf, Hall, Webb, Goodman, Monga, and McGrath (1989), Brooks, Fahey, White, and Baldwin (2000), Curtis and Fraser (2003).
4) Shorter Labour and Speeds Up: Delivery Time: Exercise speed up delivery, which is of great benefits to the mother and the baby (Brooks, Fahey, White and Baldwine, (2000), Wolf, Hall, Webb, Goodman, Monga, and McGrath, (1989); Insel and Roth, (1991). It also, speeds up recovery from the stress of pregnant and quick return to former weight and shape they said.
5) Enhance Cardio-Respiratory System: Exercise, according to Wolf, Hall, Webb, Goodman, Monga and McGrath (1989), and Curtis and Fraser (2003), increases and sustains the cardio-respiratory fitness status of the pregnant women throughout the nine months; and most particular during labour.
6) Postural Discomfort: Exercise improves posture, reduces back, pain that comes as a result of the growing uterus during pregnancy which increase the pressure on the interval organs resulting in both back pains and heart burns (Insel and Roth, 1991).
7) Body Weight Maintenance: Exercise during pregnancy is known to reduce body Weight, reducing the incidence of celluloid problem because the muscles were toned and did not collapse into their posture, and were not prone to overweight due to a healthy endocrine Brooks, Fahey, White, and Baldwin, (2000); Berk, Hatch, et al (1998); and Clap, Kim and Burcui (2002).
8) It Enhances Self-System: Regular moderate exercise increases self-confidence, improves emotional wellbeing, mood and improves poise and grace (Kitzinger (1997), Dempsey et al, (2001); Berk (2004), Clap, et al, (2002), makes makes the woman to sleep better at right (Boscaglie, et al 2003).
9) Hypertension and Diabetes II Reduction: Brooks, Fehey, White and Baldine (2000) Dempsey, et al, (2001) said that exercising during pregnant reduces the chances of developing pregnancy induced diabetes type II and/or hypertension;
10) Regular moderate exercise prevents the development of stress marks, varicose vein and leg cramp opined Brooks, Fehey, White and Baldwin (2000).
11) Exercise reduces the incidence of caesarian-section by 24%, the use of forceps by about 14% and assists babies have higher APGAR (responsiveness) when born, said Austin, (1999). According to Windowson (2001), babies born to these exercising mother grow up to have more fabulous bodies, that are supple, higher range of motion, more active, and with a higher mental sharpness which seem to be lacking in so many of their age mates. The babies have stronger fetal heart (Clap, Kim, Burcui, (2002).
How Much Exercise do one Need During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy naturally is a contraindication. But the good news is that studies such as the Clap, Kim and Burcui (2002) conducted on 500 pregnant women; have shown that it is quite possible and safe to exercise in pregnancy. First, it is very important you tell your midwife or doctor that you want to start an exercise programme. As long as your doctor or midwife says that there is no complication in the pregnancy and gives you the go ahead, you can engage in low to moderate intensity exercise up to three times a week. Pregnancy is not a time to begin strenuous exercise if you have not been doing so in the past. Many physicians and midwives recommend you don’t cycle on the road because of accidents. (Chukwu, 2007)

How to Begin

1) Low intensity exercise: Begin slowly. Do not go beyond the low intensity level at the first trimester. Even if you have never exercised before exercise can be safely taken. If you have been exercising, keep to it but at a moderate intensity after the first trimester. It is very important to listen to your body speak to you. Do not go beyond the low intensity level.
2) You must seek the advice of a specialist in exercise and health (an exercise physiologist, or physiotherapist) before starting.
3) Monitor Your Heart Rate and Breathing: Keep watch on your heart rate and your breathing pattern as you train. The reason is simple; the foetal heart rate is tied to your own.that is, if your heart sprinting,the baby’sheart sprints along with your own as well. If you don’t have heart rate monitor, sign or discuss aloud, if you find it difficult to do any of these, slow down. If you feel breathless or dizzy, slow down and take a break.
4) Adjust your exercise intensity level accordingly in the first trimester, because it is the period when the entire body begins to adjust to the present phenomenon of pregnancy. The blood flow is always very low at this period to accommodate yourself and the new foetus; hence it can result to loss of breath and in some cases faintness too.
5) Exercising in a hot, humid environment or in an extreme altitude should be avoided. When the weather is hot body temperature goes up and will also affect the baby.
6) Drink a lot of water during exercise and after exercise. It is good for the body temperature to be kept at a healthy level for your good and that of the foetus.
7) As the pregnancy proceeded, due to the added weight, physical activities tend to be much difficult, so your training intensity should follow this natural course and down as well. Exercising at this level tends to be more difficult. Remember, never to go beyond the low intensity level.
8) Over-stretching should be avoided. So be very careful when you stretch. Relax in is a hormone that induces hyper-flexibility in the joints and muscles; and at the beginning of pregnancy, this relax in fills your system. It makes it easier for the repositioning of the pelvic and expansion of the uterus too. It is natural to strain either the muscles or ligaments, or both by pregnant women while doing physical activity. This does not mean that stretching should be excluded, no, but you should no your limitations and try as much as possible to stretch within them. It is important to stretch.
9) Exercises that are ballistic in nature should be avoided in the first and last trimesters. There is a section of exercise scholars that oppose this but those that are in support of its avoidance are of the opinion that it could strain the pelvic floor that is already carrying and supporting more weight than before. It is advised that you chose from the many exercises that are not ballistic or bouncing in nature. Safety should be your watchword; no matter how fit you believe you are. It is also that appropriate training shoes are used. (Chukwu, 2012)
10) The uterus, bladder and intestines are supported by the pelvic floor, and for this reason Kegel exercises should be performed with caution. It has been observed that the extra weight of the uterus can stretch out this floor. Thereby making the intestine or the bladder, or both to drop down. Many elderly pregnant women suffer incontinence due to this fact. Therefore, it is much better, safer and cheaper to avoid this medical problem than managing it. Kegal entail contracting and releasing the muscles of the pelvic floor, like when you want to stop urination, you tighten and relax the muscles very fast for as many times as you can do every day.
11) Position should be avoided in let gestation (Wolf, Hall, Goodman, Monga and McGrath. (1989) for the safety of the foetus.

Exercises that are Good During Pregnancy

According to Chukwu 2012, he explained those exercises that do not bring undue physiological stress to the pregnant woman, or her baby, exercise that condition or prepare the muscular tissue in readiness for labour and birth, exercises that help woman to manage her weight are also good. Also, those excises that will help her body supple and condition her cardio pulmonary systems are good during this period.
Among these exercise, walking, jogging, swimming, cycling on the stationary bicycle, step walk, using the treadmill and dancing are all accepted to be safe for the woman and the child, if only she will not over train herself. Yoga and Pilate exercises are considered good and safe too.

How Hard Can a Pregnant Woman Exercise?

A pregnant woman even if she been very active before being pregnant should aim at achieving a good level of fitness, instead of exercising to get to the apex of her fitness. As a regulation, she should be able to either using or discuss normally as she is exercising. According to Agha and Duroshola (2002), Hegaard, Petersen and Nelson (2007), Enkin (2000) and Austin (1999), a pregnant woman should aim at excusing for about 30 minutes. For at least three times every week. Campbell and Mottola (2001) observed that exercising more than 30 minutes, every alternative day could lead to the woman giving birth to a small or a low-birth-weight baby.
It is very important also for the pregnant woman not to exercise to exhaustion. She should listen to her body while exercising and call of the training immediately when she have or feels any of these signs and symptom: contractions, difficulty walking, pectoral angina (chest pain), led or abdominal pain, blurred vision. Dizziness, or faintness. Loss of breathing, or vaginal discharge or bleeding. Being aware of the baby’s movement is also very important. If you notice the movement to be slow or seem to stop, stop and have some rest. It is also important to change the mode and intensity of exercise as the pregnant proceeded. Lynch, McDonald and Magann, (2003), Clap (2002), Soultanakis-Aligigianni (2003) and Chukwu Obeny (2009) opined that exercise could lead to dehydration and elevated body temperature, hence it is advised that the pregnant woman should not over heat the body by exercise within the rules. Drinking water during exercise will help regulate the temperature also.
Some exercises that are performed lying supine should be avoided after the first trimester. Even those that will entail standing in one spot for a long time should be avoided too, as they are capable of reducing blood flow to the foetus.
Reasons Why a Pregnant Woman Should not Take Part in Exercise
There are numerous health reasons why a pregnant woman should not exercise. A woman who had a premature baby or miscarriage, who has very low iron level in the blood should not take part in exercise activities. If she has pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) she should avoid exercising. If a woman is obese or under-weight she should not exercise. If she has a joint, heart or lung problem or diabetes, she should not exercise. If she is expecting twins or more babies or having consistent vaginal bleeding she should also not exercise. If she should exercise, it must be on the permission of a physician, and care must be taken (Artal and O’ Toole, 2003).
But if the woman shows or experiences neither of the above mentioned signs and symptoms, but has gone into premature labour or had a threatened miscarriage during the current pregnancy, or has a low-lying placeta (placenta pravia) after 26 weeks of being pregnant or has developed cervical weakness (cervical incompetence) she should not exercise.


As long as the woman has the approval of a medical doctor that she is having normal pregnancy, exercising during the nine months of her pregnancy is quite safe, if only she is exercising under the supervision of a trained exercise administrator. Both the woman and the baby stand to gain from the exercise program.

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