There has been much written and said lately about exercising during pregnancy, with the recent buzz about whether or not it is acceptable to do intense workouts such as marathon running and cross training while pregnant. Opinions on dead-lifting aside, doctors are encouraging women to stay active during pregnancy. Current guidelines recommend thirty minutes of moderate physical activity on most (if not all) days of the week. As long as there is no risk to mother or child, pregnant women should keep on keeping on.
Both of my pregnancies were considered high risk, so my doctor recommended that exercise be limited to light cardio, such as walking and using an elliptical machine or stationery bike. It was a bit of a bore but certainly better than nothing.
In more routine pregnancies, doctors generally suggest that pregnant women stay active to limit excess weight gain during pregnancy. Exercising while pregnant may also improve a woman’s mood and level of fatigue. (And boy can that second trimester be exhausting.) Exercise has also been shown to lower a woman’s levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood, particularly during the second trimester. High levels of CRP have been linked to pregnancy related concerns such as gestational diabetes, preterm birth, and preeclampsia.
Now researchers have discovered that exercise during pregnancy may not just be beneficial for moms, but it may also be more beneficial for their children than previously known. Staying active while pregnant may lead to better vascular health of a woman’s offspring, not just as an infant but far into their adulthood. How fascinating is that? Though further research is needed, it is very possible that when a woman exercises during pregnancy she may be helping to program stimulus in the arteries of her child; stimulus that could even protect her child from a future of cardiovascular disease.
This marks the first time research has linked exercise during pregnancy with long-term effects for offspring. More work still needs to be done to determine exactly how this process helps, though someday we might see doctors not just suggest that women stay active during pregnancy, but prescribe it.
Please note that this post is intended to share information and ideas, as well as to create conversation. Please consult a medical professional before making changes to your lifestyle.
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