Exercising while pregnant boosts health, cuts risk of complications: guidelines

TORONTO — New guidelines suggest women who are physically active throughout pregnancy can boost their mental health and reduce the risk of gestation-related complications.

The research-based guidelines show regular exercise can cut the risk of such illnesses as depression by 25 per cent and the risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia by 40 per cent.

The guidelines encourage pregnant women without medical restrictions to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity over a minimum of three days per week.

The 150 minutes of activity can include walking, swimming, stationary cycling and resistance training.

Co-lead author Michelle Mottola of Western University says researchers examined more than 25,000 studies to develop the guidelines aimed at promoting maternal, fetal and infant health.

The London, Ont., professor of kinesiology says the evidence shows that being physically active throughout pregnancy is safe and has health benefits for both mother and baby.

"These findings mark a shift in our thinking regarding physical activity during pregnancy," says Mottola. "We have moved from looking at it as a recommended behaviour to it being a critical component of achieving a healthy pregnancy."

The guidelines were jointly launched by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

A copy of the 2019 Guideline for Physical Activity throughout Pregnancy can be accessed online at www.csep.ca/guidelines.

 

The Canadian Press