Exercise may reduce pregnancy-related risk

January 22, 2002 in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding, Sports Nutrition and Exercise

Exercise may reduce  pregnancy-related risk

Many women who are at risk of developing the dangerous pregnancy-related condition known as pre-eclampsia are advised by their doctors to limit their physical activity. Now study from Seattle, Washington suggests that exercise during pregnancy may actually lower a woman's risk of developing the condition. Pre-eclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and increased amounts of protein in the urine. Usually occurring after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it requires urgent medical attention and is a leading cause of death among pregnant women.

The new study findings suggest that women at risk of the condition--but who have not yet developed it--may benefit from moderate exercise. Researchers interviewed 201 women with pregnancy-induced high blood pressure and 383 pregnant women with normal blood pressure levels. Overall, women who reported engaging in regular physical activity were 35% less likely to have pregnancy-induced high blood pressure than their less-active peers, and those who participated in light to moderate activities were 24% less likely than their inactive peers.

In addition, women who said they walked at a brisk pace of three or more miles per hour, regardless of the distance, had a 33% to 41% reduced risk of the condition in comparison to those who did not walk at all. Risk of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure also decreased with the increasing number of stairs climbed per day. Women who reported engaging in physical activity the year before they became pregnant were also at a decreased risk of pre-eclampsia.

In a healthy pregnant woman, current recommendations are to keep the woman

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