Does Exercise During Pregnancy Impact Hypertension or Macrosomia?
The purpose of this randomized controlled trial (RCT) was to determine whether regular physical exercise during pregnancy could prevent pregnancy-induced hypertension, excessive gestational weight gain (GWG), macrosomia (>4000 g) and low birthweight (<2500 g). The women randomized to the exercise group trained 3 days/week (50-55min) from 9-11 weeks until 38-39 weeks, participating in aerobics, and muscular strength and flexibility exercises.
Exercise when compared to the control group:
Reduced the incidence of hypertension (5.7% down to 2.1%; P=0.009)
Reduced the incidence of preeclampsia (2.3% down to 0.5%; P=0.03)
Prevented excessive maternal weight gain (26.4% compared to 34.2%; P=0.03)
Resulted in less weight gain during pregnancy (12.1 kg compared to 12.9 kg; P=.01)
Reduced the number of macrosomic babies (P=0.03) and increased adequate-weight babies (P=.01)
There have been previous studies indicating that exercise may protect against high blood pressure in pregnancy as well as impact weight of mothers and infants. However, the authors have now confirmed these findings using a well designed prospective RCT (AJOG,2016).
Physical training is a safe intervention that can reduce hypertension (3 times more likely without exercise) and excessive weight gain during pregnancy (1.5 times more likely without exercise)
Those women who had greater than or equal to 2 pregnancies and did not exercise were most at risk of excess weight gain during pregnancy
Hypertension and preterm delivery were reduced in nulliparous women
Reduction in excessive weight gain was seen in normal-weight, overweight and obese women
Providers should encourage maternal exercise, in keeping with professional guidance beginning early in pregnancy
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