Exercising is important to keep yourself healthy and fit even when you are pregnant. However, you might be wondering how much exercise or what sort of exercise you can do during your pregnancy. So, today I’m going to post about the advice on exercise that is given in Japan to pregnant women.
In the Japanese Obstetrics and Gynecology Practice Guidelines Obstetrics Edition (2017), it says that pregnant women who perform aerobic exercise at least 2-3 times a week can improve and maintain their physical function without increasing the rate of preterm birth. It therefore recommends regular aerobic exercise. The guidelines of both the United States and Canada also recommend the same thing and say that you can exercise for more than 30 minutes a day several times a week unless you have special complications.
The exercise is useful mainly for the following three things: ・Maintenance of physical fitness ・Improvement of cardiopulmonary function ・Weight control Especially if you are told to control your weight, it is recommended that this be done through exercise, rather than by reducing food consumption. (Although some people might also have to reduce the amount of food they eat. What you are consuming is obviously very important too.)
However, I’d like you to remember that you mustn’t do heavy exercises such as heavy weight training or strenuous sports. You should also avoid exercises that involve lying on your back for a long time and exercises that can cause falls or injuries. Scuba diving is also ruled out regardless of the period of pregnancy.
What is appropriate exercise for pregnant women then?
It is a “light aerobic exercise” that uses the muscles of the whole body to take in sufficient oxygen.
According to Japan’s Safety Management Standards for Pregnant Women’s Sports, it is desirable to have a heart rate of 150 times/min or less, and a level of exercise intensity that doesn’t feel too gruelling for you. The US and Canadian academic societies recommend exercise of “at least 150 minutes per week, divided into 5 days or so per week.”, “If you’re going to start regular exercise after getting pregnant, start with about 5 minutes a day and then extend your daily exercise time by 5 minutes every week.”, “Women who have been exercising actively before pregnancy may continue to do the same with the permission of their doctor.”
In other words, the point is “to exercise continuously within a reasonable range”. Although some people may have difficulty with morning sickness in early pregnancy (up to about the 15th week), try to work within a reasonable range. If you feel it’s hard, you don’t need to force yourself too much. During the middle stage of pregnancy it is relatively easy to move. However, your abdomen will grow larger during the second trimester so it’s best to exercise comfortably and slowly to avoid vibrations in your abdomen.
If you are working, you can try to walk at
a brisk pace and use stairs on the way to the office or in the building. When
you go shopping to a supermarket, you can try to take a slightly longer route.
Cleaning your home is also a good way to
exercise. Wiping the floor is hard work but worth doing as it’s also good for
preparing a clean room for your baby.
Summer in Japan is dangerously hot in recent years. If you want to walk outside for exercise, I recommend you go in the early morning. At around 5 am, it is already light and cooler than later. I also recommend going “window shopping” as you can walk for quite long time in cool buildings, as well as enjoying yourself! If you live in the Tokyo area, Futako-tamagawa is a good place for it. It’s got lots of shops including those that sell baby goods. The buildings are just next to the station and it is a very light, spacious place. You can also enjoy walking along the river if it’s not too hot.
I’ll say it again. Exercising comfortably is the key! I hope you enjoy your maternity life and keep both yourself and your baby healthy.
Much of the information provided above is drawn from a Japanese-language blog post by Dr. Daisuke Shigemi on the website of the 産婦人科オンラインジャーナル (Online Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology) . The link is provided below.