exercise during pregnancy

Researcher evaluated whether a supervised program to encourage exercise during pregnancy could confer positive health benefits after delivery.

This Norwegian study conducted from September 2010 to March 2015 among pregnant women evaluated whether physical activity during pregnancy would impact the levels of diabetes and hypertension during and after pregnancy. The researchers investigated a supervised exercise training program during pregnancy to determine the reduced post-partum weight retention. This supervision of exercise during pregnancy took place until delivery on over-weight and obese women. The cardio-metabolic markers used for measurement were body composition, blood pressure,blood sugar, and physical activity levels.

This randomized controlled trial assigned ninety women whose body mass index (BMI) was greater than or equal to 28 kg/mto participate in an exercise program or a control group.  Those in the exercise group participated in weekly supervised sessions of moderate walking or running intensity exercise, which lasted for 35 minutes. This was followed by another 25 minutes of resistance training exercises. The control group however, only received standard maternal care, with assessments done in early and late pregnancy and then again at 3 months post-partum. Post-partum weight minus weight of early pregnancy was calculated and called Pre and Post-Partum Weight Record (PPWR).

Seventy women completed the study after three months post–partum. The results showed that the 36 women in the exercise during pregnancy group had a decrease of -0.8 kilograms of PPWR, while the controlled group of 34 women had-1.6 kilograms in PPWR. The researchers determined that this difference was not statistically significant. The women in the exercise groups, however, did show a far lower concentrated of insulin and a lower homeostatic blood pressure (BP), than the women in the controlled group. Three women in the controlled group had been diagnosed with diabetes post-partum, compared with no women in the exercise group. The results showed that more women in the exercise group (46.4%) than the control group (25%) continued to exercise regularly.

Although the study revealed that the weight loss among the over-weight and obese women was not significant, the results of the lower circulating insulin levels and lower blood pressure were significant. The researchers concluded that exercise during pregnancy women who are over-weight and obese could regulate their circulating insulin, lower their blood pressure, and reduce the risk of diabetes and hypertension in the post-partum period. However further studies may need to be done to determine this fully.

Written by Dr. MòNique J. Grant Coke, DNP, MPH, BSN, Medical Writer

Reference: Garnes, K., Markved, S., Salvesen, K., Salvensen O. &Moholdt, T. (2018). Exercise training during pregnancy reduces circulating insulin levels in overweight/ obese women postpartum: secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial (the ETIP trial). BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 18:18 DOI 10.1186/s12884-017-1653-5

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