When it comes to ensuring you get enough exercise, common sense can tell you that you that the more you move, the better off you’ll be. However, when it comes to pregnancy, it can sometimes be confusing to know what is safe and what isn’t. Luckily, these new exercise guidelines for pregnant women offers some easy-to-follow advice.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition published in the Journal of the American Medical Association provides recommendations for Americans of all ages and health stages on the amount and type of exercise they should be doing daily to to stay healthy and minimize the risk of obesity.

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According to the updated guidelines, non-pregnant adults should do “at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. They should also do muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week.”

For pregnant and postpartum women, the recommendation is to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. The guidelines define aerobic activity as an endurance or cardio activity, “examples include brisk walking, running, or bicycling.” If possible, the activity should be spread throughout the week.

According to the guidelines, women who were “habitually engaged in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or who were physically active before pregnancy” can continue this same activities during pregnancy. Regardless of your level of activity and fitness, the guidelines state that you should consult with your doctor throughout your pregnancy to determine if any adjustments to physical activity need to be made.

Photo: Vitor Pinto via Unsplash

For pregnant women regular aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes and postpartum depression. Some studies also suggest that physical activity can reduce the risk of pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, reduce the length of labor and postpartum recovery, and reduce the risk of having a cesarean delivery.

Overall, the important takeaway is that any exercise is better than none. The report emphasizes that moving more and sitting less can benefit everyone. Obviously, if you’re pregnant, check with your healthcare provider to find out how much exercise is best for you.

—Shahrzad Warkentin



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