Pregnancy Pathway — Exercise


How lucky is this? Just a few days ago, yet another study was released and has been cir­cu­lat­ing on Med­scape and other med­ical sites that indi­cates exer­cise is ben­e­fi­cial in preg­nancy, whether the mother is a pre­vi­ous exer­ciser or not. Just in time for this entry!

Behavior Affects Pregnancy Outcome

Behav­ior Affects Preg­nancy Outcome

Phys­i­cal exer­tion (we call it “exer­cise” nowa­days) is a nor­mal state for healthy humans. Only in the last cen­tury has the desire to rest or the need to store extra calo­ries as fat become more pos­si­ble to achieve than our need to move about to survive.

Preg­nancy is a state in which both of these fac­tors (rest­ing and stor­ing calo­ries) are enhanced through organic changes in body chem­istry, adap­ta­tions that favor fetal sur­vival. The cur­rent seden­tary lifestyle exag­ger­ates these meta­bolic changes and results in syn­dromes that increase the risk for a num­ber of meta­bolic, car­dio­vas­cu­lar and immuno­log­i­cal dis­or­ders of pregnancy.

When con­fronted by the idea that it is coun­ter­in­tu­itive to think exer­cise in preg­nancy might be safe (let alone ben­e­fi­cial) I am dumb­founded. To me, it is coun­ter­in­tu­itive to think that a seden­tary lifestyle in preg­nancy might be safe!

Burning Calories in Pregnancy Improves Outcomes!

Burn­ing Calo­ries in Preg­nancy Improves Outcomes!

What is the evi­dence that exer­cise in preg­nancy is ben­e­fi­cial? Keep in mind that some stud­ies have been exe­cuted more expertly than oth­ers. But, what is com­pelling is that numer­ous well-respected researchers have sought to test the hypoth­e­sis that exer­cise is not safe, but come away with results that indi­cate the opposite!

Here are some of the major findings:

• The pla­centa is larger and has more trans­port sur­face in exer­cis­ers than seden­tary women

• The fetuses of (aer­o­bic) exer­cis­ing moth­ers make ben­e­fi­cial car­dio­vas­cu­lar adaptations

• Women who do aer­o­bic exer­cise are less likely to develop severe preeclamp­sia or ges­ta­tional dia­betes, and the long term health prob­lems that accom­pany these disorders

• Women who are aer­o­bi­cally fit recover from birth 10 times faster than seden­tary women (as mea­sured by time needed to metab­o­lize free rad­i­cals pro­duced in labor)

• Women who exer­cise in preg­nancy are more likely to be phys­i­cally fit in midlife

• Babies of aer­o­bi­cally fit women are at reduced risk for pre­ma­tu­rity and low birth weight
So, we have arrived at the take-home mes­sage: MOVE!! Preg­nancy works best when you move and burn calo­ries in a mod­er­ate to vig­or­ous fash­ion. But, alter­nate this activ­ity with rest and good nutri­tion, and be sure to stay well hydrated.
If you want more specifics and resources on this topic, try these:
“Women and Exer­cise” in Varney’s Mid­wifery.