Staying physically active is crucial for maintaining good health, even during pregnancy. Regular physical activity helps reduce the likelihood of developing obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. It also reduces symptoms of depression, improves quality of life, and can extend lifespan.

Keeping in mind the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle during and after pregnancy, the Israel Medical Association’s “Medicine” journal has published a list of recommendations for expectant mothers on how to stay physically fit. .

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היריון הריון פעילות גופנית כושרהיריון הריון פעילות גופנית כושר

Strengthening muscles can reduce back pain

The authors note that during pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes many changes, including an increase in blood volume, heart rate, and cardiac output. These changes create a reserve in the cardiovascular and cardiac system that supports mother and fetus during rest and exercise.

At the 20th week of pregnancy, there is a decrease in blood flow to the heart when lying on your back due to the pressure of the uterus on the inferior vena cava, which carries blood to the heart. As the lung capacity also changes, the ability to perform aerobic activity decreases and the availability of oxygen during intense aerobic activity decreases.

Pregnant women should increase their fluid intake, wear light clothing, avoid activities in hot and humid weather, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy. Exposure to heat in a hot tub or sauna has been linked to neural tube defects in the developing fetus, but physical activity itself should not raise body temperature to a worrying level and is therefore recommended and important.

Activities that strengthen the abdominal and back muscles, for example, can reduce the risk of back pain. During pregnancy, a woman’s weight distribution changes, as does the angle of the spine, causing about 60% of women to experience lower back pain during pregnancy.

Increased hormone levels cause ligaments in the skeletal and muscular system to relax, resulting in altered range of motion and risk of joint injury. It is therefore recommended to start physical training with a warm-up and end it with relaxation.

Physical activity during pregnancy also affects fetal development: fetal heart rate responds with an increase of 10 to 30 beats per minute above baseline during or after activity. However, there is no risk of harm to the fetus.

Strengthening of the pelvic floor

According to new recommendations, it is suggested that all pregnant women practice physical activity unless contraindicated by their gynecologist.

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היריון הריון פעילות גופנית כושרהיריון הריון פעילות גופנית כושר

The recommendation is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, spread over at least three days – preferably over the whole week.

Even physical activity that lasts less than 150 minutes has been shown to be beneficial. There is not enough information about high-intensity or prolonged physical activity.

The physical activity recommendation applies to pregnant women who did not engage in such activity before pregnancy, as well as women with gestational diabetes and those who are overweight.

For overweight women with a BMI (body mass index) greater than 25, it is recommended to start the activity gradually, in short intervals and at low intensity until reaching the recommended level according to their capacity.

The authors also discuss activity that includes weightlifting: as research on the topic is limited, there are no detailed recommendations regarding amount and intensity.

However, the medical literature notes that a combination of aerobic activity and strength training provides great health benefits, even during pregnancy, unless the obstetrician prohibits it.

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היפוך עובריםהיפוך עוברים

It is also noted that the addition of yoga and gentle stretching can also benefit pregnant women and recommends strengthening the pelvic floor muscles to prevent urinary system disorders.

The review also details pregnancy complications that completely prevent physical activity. The list includes placental abruption, edema, changes in the anatomy of the uterus, pregnancy of triplets, intrauterine growth retardation and chronic unbalanced diseases.

The conditions under which physical activity must be stopped are also specified: severe shortness of breath, chest pain, painful contractions and uterine contractions, edema or discharge, dizziness or a feeling of premature labor that does not go away with rest.

Activity after birth

After childbirth, physical activity can be resumed gradually depending on the type of childbirth and any complications, but pelvic floor rehabilitation exercises can be started immediately.

The physical activity of breastfeeding women does not affect the quantity or composition of breast milk or the growth of the baby. Researchers recommend paying attention to adequate hydration.

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