Women who want to stave off aches and pains during pregnancy should exercise regularly before they conceive, experts have said.
High impact activities such as jogging, ball games, and aerobics may be the most beneficial for preventing pelvic pain, which is thought to affect up to one in five pregnant women.
Exercising between three and five times a week before trying for a baby helped cut pelvic pain in pregnancy by 14%, according to the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Pregnancy pelvic pain, frequently called pelvic girdle pain, occurs when the body makes way for a developing baby.
It is likely to be caused by a combination of factors, including the joints in the pelvis moving unevenly and changes to the way muscles support the joints in the pelvis. It can occur anywhere in the pelvis, and can lead to some women struggling to walk or sleep due to excruciating pain.
In the latest study, researchers, including from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, examined data from women taking part in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.
Some 4,069 women reported pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy. Of these, 12.5% had not exercised before getting pregnant.
Compared to non-exercisers, women who exercised three to five times a week pre-pregnancy had a 14% lower risk of developing pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy.
The researchers said: “Taking part in high impact exercises such as running, jogging, orienteering, ball games, netball games and high-impact aerobics were associated with less risk of pelvic girdle pain.
“Women who exercise regularly and engage in high-impact exercises before the first pregnancy may have a reduced risk of pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy.”
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