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Exercise during pregnancy for elite athletes: Current evidence & training recommendations By Zach Ferraro PhD, CSEP-CEP


renatal life is recognized as a critical period where vital physiological processes may be permanently transformed leading to altered susceptibility to disease risk later in life1. Accordingly, fetal adaptive responses to the maternal environment, including the in utero effect of a physically active pregnancy, may influence the longterm health and wellbeing of the developing child. However, is there potentially lifelong benefit of maternal exercise on fetal health? And, can you exercise during pregnancy without harming yourself or your


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developing child? This paper will attempt to answer these questions by providing an overview of maternal exercise physiology and highlight the effect of physical activity (PA) on maternal-fetal outcomes. Lastly, training recommendations will be made that align with the joint position statement put forward by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (SOGCCSEP Position Stand)2. Pregnancy is a unique state in which women are highly motivated to change


behaviour3. Nonetheless, despite this ‘teachable moment’, many women are unaware of what constitutes ‘safe and effective’ exercise practice and have difficulty overcoming common barriers to participation. Consequently, they do not fully benefit from PA during pregnancy4,5. In addition, health care providers may fail to recognize the benefits PA during pregnancy and thus do not make proper use of available screening tools that encourage participation such as the ‘Physical Activity Readiness Medical Exam for Pregnancy’ (i.e., the PARmed-X)6. This user-friendly, pregnancy-specific tool

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