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All new: physical activity guidelines for pregnant women

Then: People used to believe that physical exercise can be harmful to the unborn baby. After all, pregnancy was referred to as that “delicate condition” and doing anything strenuous could be lead to spontaneous abortion or pre-term birth.

Now: Exercise is encouraged for women during pregnancy and after delivery. It is beneficial to the health of both mother and baby.

Recently, researchers at the Michigan State University helped the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to draft the first-ever guidelines on physical activity for Americans.

And it even includes detailed recommendations for pregnant women. The guidelines call for moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for 150 minutes scattered throughout a week. However, the following activities should be avoided:

  • Exercise that involve lying on the back after the 1st trimester.
  • Activities that present high risk of falling or injury or impact to the abdominal area.
  • In particular, contact or collision sports such as horseback riding, soccer, basketball, and downhill skiing are strongly discouraged.

According to research studies, some benefits of pregnancy exercise are as follows:

  • Exercise can reduce pregnancy complications.
  • Exercise may shorten labor time.
  • Postpartum exercise increases the cardiorespiratory fitness and reduces low moods.
  • Postpartum exercise, combined with a proper diet can help with weight loss and maintaining a health weight.

However, an exercise routine during and after pregnancy should be discussed with a qualified healthcare provider.

A complete copy of the guidelines is available at the DHHS website. The guidelines for pregnant women are in Chapter 6: Safe and Active and Chapter 7: Additional Considerations for Some Adults. Also of interest to BOL readers would be Chapter 3: Active Children and Adolescents. You will also find a great deal of information on prenatal exercise right here at Babies Online.

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