New prenatal exercise guidelines released by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) and Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) last month found that physical activity can reduce the chance of developing a major pregnancy complication. Dr. Milena Forte, family physician at Mount Sinai’s Granovsky Gluskin Family Medicine Centre and maternity care lead for the department of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto, was the family physician representative on the team that developed these new standards, and one of the authors of the new guidelines as well.

“Patients often wonder if they can continue to exercise during pregnancy. The 2019 Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines in Pregnancy shifts the way we view exercise in the prenatal period and highlights that prenatal physical activity is a therapy that can reduce pregnancy complications for mom and improve baby’s health,” says Dr. Forte. “Moderate intensity exercise in pregnancy is not associated with increased rates of complications such as miscarriage, preterm birth, birth defects or low birth weight and should be recommended to all patients who have not been advised to restrict their physical exertion.”

The first update since 2003, some of the recommendations include:

  • Pregnant women should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week
  • Physical activity should be accumulated over a minimum of three days per week: however, being active every day is encouraged
  • Pregnant women should incorporate a variety of aerobic and resistance training activities to achieve greater benefits

Currently, less than 15 per cent of women meet the recommendation of 150 minutes per week of moderate activity throughout pregnancy. There are, however, times when patients will be advised against the moderate-intensity exercise included in the new guidelines. To read more about the recommendations and contraindications, click here.