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Exercise During Pregnancy

As a mother-to-be, we want what is best for our little one, even when baby is still growing inside of you! We want to stay healthy and active as much as possible while pregnant, but how do we know what is good and what might be too much? Here are some benefits and pointers to exercise during pregnancy so you can keep active, but safe, while carrying your little one.

Top 5 Benefits of Exercise:

  1. More rapid return to pre-pregnancy weight
  2. Decreased likelihood of varicose veins
  3. Lowered risk of post-partum depression
  4. Less likely to have a caesarian section, and easier natural delivery
  5. Larger placenta which means more nutrients for your baby

Pregnant woman doing cardiovascular exercise

Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to type, frequency, and intensity of exercise. It is important to adjust your exercise program appropriately.

  • DO monitor your heart rate: You will have to adjust your intensity of your work outs to maintain no higher than 70-75% of your maximum rate.
  • DO monitor your body temperature and stay hydrated: Keep your temp under 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees F), especially in the third trimester.
  • DO NOT use saunas, hot tubs, or steam showers at the gym. Studies show you are at risk of birth defects if you overheat.
  • DO NOT perform any contact sports or sprinting or high impact workouts (ie. Plyometrics)
  • DO choose activities that are less stressful on your joints like walking, swimming, cycling, elliptical and stair climbing
  • DO perform light weight training exercises: This will help strengthen muscles and improve the stability/control of your spine
  • DO choose to use higher repetition (10-15 reps), lower weights: this will decrease the stress on other relaxed your joints and prevent holding your breath
  • DO NOT exercise lying on your back or in a position that would put pressure on your belly
  • DO work on exercising in a neutral spine and breathe naturally: this will keep baby and your back in a good position and provide a good amount of oxygen to the baby
  • DO work on your core muscles like front and side bridges

If you’re pregnant, yet new to exercise, start very slow.  A good idea is to work with a fitness professional who has had experience in working with pregnant women.  As well, it is always good to make sure you’re also taking care of your nutrition. If you take care of all facets of your health and well-being, you will take of the health and well-being of your baby as well.

Jason Bellefleur
Jason Bellefleur is a multi-award-winning physiotherapist. Most recently, he was recognized as a 2016 Ottawa Forty Under 40 recipient and received numerous awards from the Orléans Chamber of Commerce (the 2011 Young Business Person of the Year, the 2012 Healthcare Professional of the Year and the 2014 Business Person of the Year awards). Jason is proud to be an Orléans resident and to raise his family in a bilingual community. He enthusiastically promotes local business within the Orléans area and frequently supports and participates in local events. Jason was recognized for his community involvement by receiving the Orleans 150 Community Builder award in 2017 by Ottawa-Orléans MPP Marie-France Lalonde. Jason firmly believes in high-quality one-on-one physiotherapy interventions. His treatment approach emphasizes hands-on intervention, continued client education, and active involvement by the individual to help them reach their full potential. By opening a clinic that offers 'Higher Standards of Care,' Jason wants his patients to feel confident that they receive the highest level of patient care available. As a result, he is also preventing injury and helping to improve their health and well-being.

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