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Moderate Aerobic Exercise Helps Overweight Pregnant Women Get Fit, Reduce Risk of Pregnancy-Related Problems, Study Says

August 5, 2005
Kaisernetwork.org's Daily Reproductive Health Report

Moderate aerobic exercise could help overweight, pregnant women get into better shape, thereby reducing their risk of health problems associated with pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, hypertension and preterm delivery, according to a study published in the August issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, Reuters Health reports. Iracema Athayde Santos of the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil and colleagues enrolled 132 overweight women, all of whom were less than 20 weeks pregnant at the start of the study. Researchers instructed half of the women to participate in three one-hour exercise sessions, which involved walking or pedaling a stationary bicycle, each week for 12 weeks. The other women were instructed to attend weekly discussion and relaxation programs for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, researchers found that the women in the exercise group had become fitter, while the women in the other group had become less fit. There has been little previous research done on the effects of exercise on pregnant women, and as a result, OB/GYNs often do not recommend regular aerobic exercise for most of their pregnant patients. The researchers recommend that pregnant women participate in physical activities, such as swimming, walking, water aerobics, stationary bicycling and low-impact gymnastics. However, the researchers said that pregnant women should avoid activities with a high risk of falling -- such as basketball, tennis and cycling -- and consult their physician or an expert in exercise during pregnancy before starting any exercise regimen (McCook, Reuters Health, 8/3).

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