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Study Shows Exercise During Pregnancy Can Reduce Your Risk of Pre-eclampsia

I think we have all heard at some point along the line that exercise in pregnancy is a good thing.  As long as it’s safe, not excessively high impact and not putting you at risk for physical danger (you might want to avoid tackle football), it’s good for you and for your baby.

If you’re like me, you have long planned to be the model of perfect pregnancy.  You planned to eat right, you planned to exercise every day and have that radiant glow of gestation.  And then you got pregnant while working 45+ hours a week and discovered that the lime sized fetus has sucked every last bit of energy out of your soul.

Reality can be a real jerk sometimes.

It seems like science is trying to reinvigorate my desire to have that perfect pregnancy.  A new study was just completed at The University of Oregon to look at the effect of exercise before conception and in early pregnancy.  Now, disclaimer, this was a study done on rats, and so obviously the results are not 100% irrefutably applicable, but it’s generally considered unethical to do studies on pregnant women.

The subjects were split into two groups, one group was given a wheel to run on for 6 weeks before and then during their pregnancy and the other group was not.  They monitored them later in pregnancy to see the effect that the exercise might have had on them.

The results are admittedly a little sciency, so I’m going to try to break them down just incase you’re not like me and have wasted used the last 3 years of your life learning medical mumbo jumbo that causes most people’s eyes to glaze over with boredom.

The tests they did late in pregnancy showed that the rats who exercised had higher levels of a protein responsible for creating new veins and arteries as well as protecting the ones you already have.  The other protein increase they saw was also related to the heart and veins and it keeps your arteries and veins open wide so that blood can flow through them easily.

I can see your eyes glazing over.  What you really want to know is why this is important.

And here’s why: pregnant women have a significant chance of developing high blood pressure, or pre-eclampsia, while pregnant.  Pre-eclampsia is responsible for premature births and if untreated can lead to severe health consequences for mothers and babies alike.  These two proteins, in concert, can help your blood flow more easily and potentially help reduce your risk of high blood pressure, protecting both you and your baby.

Sounds good to me.

As if we hadn’t already heard enough that exercise was good for you, this study is pretty strong evidence that exercising before and during pregnancy is good for your heart and good for your baby.  I guess it’s time to do some energy searching, lace up my tennis shoes and try to get back into the swing of exercise.  Thanks science, for that kick in the pants.

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