Exercise and pregnancy

By Carrie Johnson • Published: June 8th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Exercise might just be the last thing on an expectant mother’s mind. Feelings of anxiety about the health of the baby coupled with the fatigue, nausea and discomfort of pregnancy… think swollen ankles… lead many to seek refuge on the couch.

In fact, a new study done by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that only twenty-three percent of pregnant women engaged in as much exercise as recommended by the government and other health agencies. And that has some doctors worried.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says women with uncomplicated pregnancies should get thirty minutes of moderate exercise per day. The Department of Health and Human Services has a similar target: one-hundred and fifty minutes per week.

But the UNC study of more than twelve hundred women showed that hardly any were meeting that mark. In interviews conducted between 1999 and 2006, about fifty-six percent of the pregnant women reported engaging in vigorous exercise during their first trimester. The number dropped sharply after that.

In all, between fourteen and twenty-three percent of the women met the recommendations for physical activity throughout their pregnancies. There is evidence that exercise may prevent diabetes that develops during pregnancy, and it relieves stress and builds the stamina needed for exercise and delivery.

However, moms-to-be should also be careful not to overdo it. A pregnant woman’s heartbeat should never exceed one-hundred and forty beats per minute. That still leaves plenty of room to get up and get moving. Think of it as good practice for chasing around your toddler.