Pregnant women should get moving! That’s the clear message in the newest guidelines released by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a group that advises doctors what to tell their patients when it comes to pregnancy and health.
“Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises before, during, and after pregnancy.”
–ACOG December, 2015 Guidelines
ACOG’s previous statement came out in 2002, so this update encapsulates a decade of newer research on perinatal exercise. All Oh Baby! Fitness classes use the ACOG guidelines as our standard – so this is an exciting day in the world of pregnancy exercise! It validates what we’ve been doing all along in our pregnancy and mom & baby exercise classes and confirms that doctors agree, it’s safe AND good for pregnant women to work out.
The doctors’ group also says exercise can help with weight control and reducing the risk of gestational diabetes, as well as improving a mom’s psychological well-being. Making exercise part of your daily life is key:
“An exercise program that leads to an eventual goal of moderate-intensity exercise for at least 20–30 minutes per day on most or all days of the week.”
Moms should get the OK from their doctor before starting an exercise program. Pregnant women who haven’t exercised before should start gradually, while women who were regular exercisers before pregnancy and who have uncomplicated, healthy pregnancies should be able to engage in high-intensity exercise programs, such as jogging and aerobics, with no negative effects.
Walking, swimming, stationary cycling and low-impact aerobics were recommended as safe workouts. New to the list is strength training, modified yoga and Pilates which reflects our belief at Oh Baby! Fitness about the importance of safe and targeted abdominal work during pregnancy. Jogging or running is also recommended, a question we often get from Moms in Oh Baby! Fitness classes.
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Specific to note here is that “Hot Yoga” SHOULD BE AVOIDED during pregnancy, along with contact sports like basketball, boxing or soccer.. and any activity that has a high risk of falling like horseback riding or skiing.
ACOG recommends you should immediately discontinue exercise if you experience any of the following: vaginal bleeding, regular painful contractions, amniotic fluid leakage, dizziness, labored breathing before exercise, headache, chest pain, muscle weakness that affects balance and calf pain or swelling.
One more exciting thing to note about the guidelines is that they call for MORE research into the benefits of perinatal exercise:
“Additional research is needed to study the effects of exercise on pregnancy-specific conditions and outcomes, and to further clarify effective behavioral counseling methods and optimal type, frequency, and intensity of exercise. Similar research is needed to improve evidence-based information concerning the effects of occupational physical activity on maternal–fetal health.”
We couldn’t agree with this recommendation more— the last decade’s research has only made it clear how beneficial perinatal exercise is, but there’s more work to be done.
We encourage all pregnant women and pre/postnatal fitness providers to check out ACOG’s new recommendations, and join an Oh Baby! Fitness class for safe and effective exercise that follows ACOG’s guidelines. Looking to learn more about how to train pregnant women and new moms? Check out our online Oh Baby! Fitness Perinatal Fitness Certification.