Thursday, February 2, 2012

Prenatal Cardio – How often? How hard? How long? What’s safe?

The SOGC (Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada) and CSEP (Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology) recommend that all healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies do regular cardiovascular exercise. 

Because research shows that regular cardiovascular exercise may prevent gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure), loss of cardiovascular fitness, excessive weight gain, varicose veins, low back pain and more.  In nine years experience teaching prenatal fitness classes, I would add further benefits such as increased energy, reduced nausea, improved mental health as well as stamina for labour.

THE SOGC/CSEP guidelines are as follows:

Frequency: Up to 4 days a week
Intensity: Use a combination of
(a)  The Talk Test - You should be able to produce short sentences
(b)  RPE (rate of perceived exertion) – Listen to your body
(c)   Heart Rate checks – Use the Target Heart Rate chart in the PARmed-X for Pregnancy form
Time: 15-30 minutes not including warm up or cool down
Type: Low impact endurance exercise using large muscle groups (ex walking, stationary bike, swimming aqua fitness, low impact aerobics).  Avoid activities that put you in danger of falling, collisions or flying projectiles. If you were previously doing impact exercise like running and it still feels good, then it is ok to continue running.  Just be sure to stay within the guidelines for frequency, intensity and time.

Questions and comments welcome.

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