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Exercise beneficial for pregnant women

Exercise beneficial for pregnant women

Though women are often warned to be cautious about exercising while pregnant, a review of clinical data indicates physical activity is safe for both the mother and foetus.

Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University pooled data from nine previous studies, focusing on 1,022 women who exercised for 35 to 90 minutes either three or four times a week during pregnancy, and 1,037 who did not. The women were generally of normal weight with uncomplicated pregnancies. Accordingly, the study found that women who exercised for 10 weeks or up until their delivery, were found to have similar rates of preterm birth, similar weights at birth and their babies were born at a similar gestational age as those who did not exercise. And women who exercised gave birth vaginally 73 per cent of the time and 17.9 per cent of them had a caesarean section, compared to 67 per cent for those who did not exercise giving birth vaginally and 22 per cent required a c-section. Further, women who did not exercise had higher incidence of gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders when compared to those who exercised, suggesting worthwhile health benefits for women who exercise.

In spite of prior studies showing exercise tending not to pose health risks for women with high-risk pregnancies, Dr. Vincenzo Berghella said that women continue to be scared away from all kinds of exercise while pregnant.

"The thinking was that exercise releases norepinephrine in the body, which is a chemical that can stimulate contractions of the uterus, and thus lead to preterm birth," he said. "But numerous studies including this new meta-analysis have since shown that exercise does not harm the baby, and can have benefits for the mom and baby.

Dr Berghella adds that the study reinforces that exercise does not hold any "increased risk" of preterm birth.

The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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