by Stephanie Paplinskie, MA
Personal Training Quarterly May 2019
Vol 6, Issue 1
Pregnancy is an incredibly unique time in a woman’s life and brings about a multitude of physiological and psychological changes to the mother in each trimester. Trimesters refer to the stages of pregnancy and are broken down into three parts: the first trimester spans weeks 1 – 12, the second trimester spans weeks 13 – 27, and the third trimester spans weeks 28 – 40. During these trimesters, pregnant women experience musculoskeletal structure changes and adaptations, decreased glucose sensitivity, hormonal changes, and gestational related weight gain. Additionally, pregnancy can sometimes be associated with a number of possible negative health outcomes for the mother, including but not limited to: morning sickness, gestational diabetes mellitus, gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, and depressive symptoms. Consequently, these conditions pose challenges that might impede a woman’s ability to participate in physical activity; however, exercise is considered to be a primary means of preventing negative health outcomes (8). Resistance training, alone and in combination with aerobic activity, has been associated with a multitude of health benefits to the mother and growing fetus during pregnancy, including: improved blood glucose regulation, improved oxygen and nutrient transport, improved sleep, decreased depressive symptoms, weight management, and fewer newborn complications. Despite the benefits, less than 15% of women are actually meeting the recommended pregnancy exercise guidelines of 150 min of moderate physical activity per week (5).
Personal trainers are in a unique position to assist prenatal women on how to begin or continue with an exercise program in order to meet the world consensus on physical activity recommendations during pregnancy, as well as guide women safely through their workouts (4). In order to do this effectively, personal trainers should be aware of the physiological changes at each trimester in order to provide appropriate exercise modifications and alternatives for their prenatal clients.
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