Women’s Health Week: Exercise In Pregnancy

Exercise In Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the most exciting but nerve-wracking times in any woman’s life.

One of the most common reasons that women see us at Fitwise is to get information about safely exercising during pregnancy. Most women are aware that there are benefits of exercise during pregnancy but often they are concerned about potential risks to them or their unborn baby.

Historically women were often told to rest when they were pregnant and there are many ‘old wives tales’ about the risk of exercise. It is often difficult to get consistent advice about what type, intensity and duration of exercise that is considered safe and effective in this population.

In 2016 Sports Medicine Australia released a position statement to assist Physiotherapists and other health professionals to understand the benefits and risks of participation in exercise while pregnant.  From this position statement we know that current evidence promotes 30 minutes per day of aerobic (‘huff and puff’ or ‘cardio’) activity and 2-3 sessions per week of strengthening exercises in uncomplicated pregnancies.  The recommendations state that women should aim for a moderate intensity of training and include all large muscle groups for strength work.

The guidelines also recommend that women should specifically include pelvic floor exercises as part of their training (see our blog post: Looking After Your Pelvic Floor During Pregnancy).

The benefits of exercise in pregnancy for the mother include:

  • Improved muscle strength and endurance
  • Improved heart function and fitness
  • Decreased risk of some complications including pregnancy induced high blood pressure
  • Reduced back and pelvic pain
  • Decreased risk of excessive weight gain and post birth weight retention
  • Fewer delivery complications
  • Reduced risk of urinary incontinence
  • Improved sleep

The benefits of exercise in pregnancy for the unborn baby can also include:

  • Improved heart health
  • Improved brain health
  • Decreased risk of excess fat stores

Activities that are recommended and generally safe in uncomplicated pregnancies are:

  • Walking, cycling, swimming
  • Muscle strengthening exercises (body weight, resistance band, dumbbells)
  • Water-based exercises (hydrotherapy classes, water walking/running)
  • Pregnancy specific exercise classes (Pilates, yoga, circuit training)

Activities that are considered unsafe are:

  • Abdominal trauma or pressure (e.g. weightlifting)
  • Contact or collision sports (e.g. martial arts)
  • Hard projectile objects (e.g. hockey, cricket)
  • Falling (e.g. horse riding, skiing, rock climbing)
  • Extreme balance or coordination (e.g. water skiing, gymnastics)
  • High intensity training at altitudes >2000m

The good news is that Fitwise Physiotherapist’s can assist you with all your exercise and pregnancy questions! We also run (small and large group) classes that are specifically aimed at pregnant and post-natal women so you know that you will be getting advice and guidance that is right for you.

Please note that these lists are not exhaustive and that some high or moderate risk pregnancies mean that a woman is not able to exercise to these guidelines. Please contact your health professional (Obstetrician, GP, midwife, or Physiotherapist) for detailed advice for your situation.

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For more information, or to book, click on “Make a Booking” at the top of the page or call our friendly team on (03) 9822 4999 (Armadale) or (03) 9486 0512 (East Melbourne).  Alternatively, you can email us at [email protected] if you have any questions.

Source: SMA position statement: Exercise in pregnancy and the postpartum period. Haymen et al, 2016. (www.sma.org.au)

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Excellence, Respect, Innovation and Fun – For our clients, for our team and for ourselves.

This is evident with the service we provide, the environment in which we provide it, the way in which we operate as a team and how we care for and value our clients, referral partners and ourselves; we live the Fitwise values every day.

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In 2004, Gen McGlashan and Libby Oldfield founded Fitwise Physiotherapy. They first met in 1994.  Libby was Gen’s physio when she had her first child. Gen then worked for Libby for 10 years in Libby’s previous business, located at the Epworth Freemasons Maternity Unit in East Melbourne. They have been a team working together for a very long time!!

Libby and Gen have always had a passion for empowering women, by helping provide accurate evidence based information and treatment to help women live their best lives. Excellence in all that they do, practising and operating in an innovative way has always been their core. Fitwise was the first multi-practitioner practice providing Women’s Health physiotherapy consultations, exercise classes and clinical pilates in Melbourne.

Gen and Libby

In February 2005 Gen and Libby moved their one room practice to Albert St East Melbourne. They had expanded to 2 treatment rooms, an exercise studio and a pilates studio with a small team of physiotherapists and one receptionist. This was exciting as they wanted to be able to help more people and to grow their team – enabling their other passion: teaching and mentoring clinicians who also wanted to work within the Women’s, Men’s and Pelvic Health arena.

5 years later, they expanded their East Melbourne clinic and in 2015 opened their second clinic in Armadale.

Remedial Massage, Myotherapy and Dietetics have been an exciting addition in recent years, with Podiatry and Exercise Physiology being added in 2022.

Fitwise Physiotherapy | Armadale

The Fitwise team has now grown to include 18 amazing practitioners and 12 wonderful administrative team members and is still growing!

Libby and Gen have always loved providing a holistic service, treating a variety of conditions in consultations and providing exercise appropriate for different life stages. The community of clients that are part of the Fitwise family, (some who have been part of the journey from the very beginning – over 17 years ago), are the biggest reason they do what they do. For Gen and Libby, it is a privilege to be part of these wonderful people’s lives.