Active pregnant women are healthier
November 18 2008
Continuing a vigorous weight-bearing exercise programme during pregnancy appears to be a marker of women who spontaneously maintain this practice over time, resulting in a low cardiovascular risk profile when they approach menopause, Dr. James F. Clapp III from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland suggests in a report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
He conducted a long-term study of a group of women initially studied serially before, during, and for one year after pregnancy 18-20 years ago. Prior to becoming pregnant, the women ran, cross-country skied, and/or performed aerobics several times a week.
The analysis included 20 women who continued exercise throughout pregnancy and 19 women who stopped or reduced their exercise volume by at least 75 percent before the 12th week of pregnancy. The women resumed a regular recreational exercise program by six months after delivery.
Results showed that the women who had exercised while pregnant were exercising at 82 percent of their pre-pregnancy level, whereas the other women were exercising at about 52 percent.
Compared to women who had decreased exercise during pregnancy, those who maintained exercise while pregnant gained less weight over time and tended to have a higher self-assessed body image.
Those who exercised through pregnancy also had a lower resting heart rate and lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. They also were more competent exercisers as demonstrated by shorter 3km run times.