BENEFITS OF PHYSICAL EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY
In recent years many studies have shown important benefits of physical exercise for mother, fetus and newborn, improving the development of the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Certain scientific evidence even inform that these benefits go beyond the pregnancy period and reach the postpartum stage increasing the wellbeing of mother and child.
Based on the above, exercise during pregnancy is not an option, but an OBLIGATION to pregnant women.
However, in order to obtain the expected effects, it must have certain characteristics, both in terms of its typology and the conditions of the perfomance. In this sense, undoubtedly the best option is the group exercise guided by a qualified of the Physical Activity and Sports Sciences; this means a program designed and supervised especially to pregnancy condition. If that possibility does not exist, the best option is to strictly respect the limits of a moderate physical exercise in terms of its intensity and the conditions of realization.
The general characteristics of this physical practice are the following:
- Occasional exercise should be avoided, developing throughout the pregnancy a regular practice of physical activity (3-5 times per week in sessions of 50-55 minutes).
- If the practice is autonomous (not supervised), it should include simple and easy-to-perform activities, without extreme workload positions or excessive forced articulations. The most recommendable option is walking on regular surfaces without large slopes.
- Intensity is one of the most relevant aspects, this should be moderate, this means that performance should be perceived as “something heavy” and the pregnant woman should be able to talk comfortably during exercise. The feeling of intense exhaustion should be avoided as basic rule.
- High body temperature should also be avoided, this implies both the clothing to be used: sports clothes are recommended that allow easy transpiration and favor the diffusion of heat from the woman’s body to the outside; as well as the environmental conditions: trying to avoid the hottest daylight hours and very humid and poorly ventilated environments.
- Appropriate sports shoes should be worn, sometimes this aspect is responsible for a large number of muscle and joint injuries.
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Dr. Rubén Barakat
Doctor en Educación Física
Profesor Titular de la Facultad de Ciencias de la Actividad Física y del Deporte-INEF. Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.
Director del Grupo de Investigación “Actividades físico-deportivas en poblaciones específicas”, especialista del área de “Ejercicio físico y embarazo”.