Researchers on exercise and pregnancy struggle with the pros and cons of exercise during pregnancy. For many years, physicians suggested moderate activity levels for pregnant women, and then made a drastic flip, stating that pregnant women should continue with their activities, or give up sedentary lifestyles in favor of regular physical exercise, stating that it would facilitate an easy labor and delivery. It seems, according to current researches about exercise during pregnancy, in some ways, both were right.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development provided $150,000 in grant money to fund a research project designed to determine the accuracy of existing methods of measuring energy expenditure in pregnant women. According to exercise physiologist, James Pivarnik, though there have been improvements in ability to measure, or estimate, energy expenditure in field settings, most of the research has been done on people who were not pregnant, so there is still much to be learned in researches about exercise during pregnancy. Dr. Pivarnik postulates that this research will go a long way in determining the role of physical activity and energy expenditure’s effects on pregnancy.
According to Dr. Carole B. Rudra from the University of Washington, who spearheaded recent researches about exercise during pregnancy, provided more evidence that engaging in regular physical activity both before and during pregnancy, reduces the risk for gestational diabetes, which threatens the health of both mother and baby, and directly correlates to the risk of the mother developing diabetes later in life.
Women in the study, who reported very strenuous exertion on a regular basis, were 81% less likely to develop gestational diabetes compared with women reporting negligible or minimal exertion. Women reporting moderate usual exertion had a 59% risk reduction compared with women reporting negligible or weak exertion.
Researches about exercise during pregnancy conducted by Dr. Richard Feely, M.D. support the positive benefits of exercise during pregnancy, noting that it may lower the risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.
Two hundred and one women with pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, and three hundred and eighty-three women who didn’t have high blood pressure during pregnancy, took part in the study. The women reported their level of recreational activity, walking, and stair climbing for the periods prior to conception and for the first twenty weeks of pregnancy.
The risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy was reduced by about 33% in women who engaged in recreational and physical activities during the year before pregnancy and during early pregnancy. Those women who did not regularly exercise, but climbed stairs every day, also had a lower risk but to a lesser extent.
A recent study at Case Western Reserve University found a direct correlation in maternal health and exercise during pregnancy, but also noted a definitive correlation in the health of the babies of mothers who did or did not exercise as well. In summary, researches about exercise and pregnancy support the belief that expectant mothers should continue suitable forms of exercise throughout pregnancy, provided there are no prohibitive medical conditions to prevent it.