Effects of Exercise on Pregnant Women

Pregnancy changes the body of a woman quite significantly. However, those great changes should not indicate necessarily a great change or decrease in the activity of the woman. Studies have shown a great variety of healthy way to incorporate activity into the lifestyle of a pregnant woman safely and studies cited in this paper will refer to the benefits of such exercise.

Levels of fitness and exercise habits vary from woman to woman. What researchers found in a Quality of Life Study (QOL) for pregnant women, was that those who participated in consistent exercise throughout all three trimesters scored higher on the QOL study and had lower levels of depression (Campolong, 1).

Those who did not score high on the QOL’s were noted to have reported lower than 150 minutes of exercise per week prior to pregnancy and lacked physical activity in their third trimester. This aroused the importance of exercise during pregnancy and the significance of health care administrators encouraging women to be active during this time. Those who achieved the recommended guidelines for physical activity reported their quality of life and overall “domain” was greater than what those who had not achieved the recommended amount. This amount of exercise recommendation was extended to even postpartum women (Campolong, 2).

In Brazil, women who were studied that had gestational diabetes or chronic hypertension were part of the approximately 14% of maternal deaths globally. Hypertensive disorder are the second leading cause of death during pregnancy. These conditions affect fetal health as well. “Although hypertension during pregnancy has a significant impact on short- and long- term maternal health, there are also other fetal and neonatal complications that can do the same. The short-term complications may include severe fetal growth restriction (FGR), oligohydramnios, preterm delivery, hypoxia–acidosis, neurologic injury, and death; potential long-term complications might lead to cerebral palsy, fetal programming, cardiovascular disease, hypertension (Kasawara, 266)”.

Studies performed in Japan found that the mother who maintained a healthy weight during pregnancy were more likely to give birth at the proper time and that the baby would have a healthy weight as well. ACSM recommends regular appropriate exercise for pregnant women. “Yoga is often used as a preferred exercise practiced by pregnant women, for its light exercise intensity and safety. Studies of yoga interventions during pregnancy suggest that yoga may reduce instance of smallness for gestational age, PIH, and pre-eclampsia.15 Also, yoga has been shown to re- duce maternal psychologic stress, including anxiety and de- pressive symptoms, during pregnancy.16 In addition, previous research by these authors, a prestudy-poststudy of maternity yoga, demonstrated that it reduced salivary cortisol, taken as an indicator of physiologic response to psychologic stress (Matsuzaki, 604)”. The combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise was used to help achieve an optimal weight gain and control.

Women at. 18-23 weeks gestation were studied measuring salivary cortisol levels and the time doing yoga.

Some of the specific benefits for the baby and mother were evaluated in Iran. Light to moderate exercise of about 30 minutes provides the mother with increased core temperature of about 1.5 degree Celsius, within the safe limits. “Some studies have been done on exercise frequency, complained that an 8-week period three days a week is considered as the optimum time for an exercise protocol (12,17,19). Researches in this area are limited and require further study. Animal studies in the field of pregnancy showed that physical activity in pregnant mice is followed by the neurogenesis in the hippocampus of children (21). Furthermore, in other studies, it was observed that active mothers have a better nerve growth in children between the ages of 12 and 24 months (Shojeian, 364-71)”. Much of the research performed was geared toward determining whether the effects of exercise or leisure activities had effects on the child’s response to stress and learning (Shojeian, 364-71).

Fatigue and low energy levels are seen all too commonly in pregnant women. These symptoms have been associated with cesarean births, lower quality of life, quick fatigue, depression, and poor work productivity. An option for pregnant women that may aid in treating these often-undertreated symptoms during pregnancy is the low-level resistance aerobic training. Studies support that the acute, low-moderate exercise can result in energy improvements and fatigue resistance (Ward, 69).


Campolong, K. (n.d.). The association of exercise during pregnancy with trimester-specific and postpartum quality of life and depressive symptoms in a cohort of healthy pregnant women. Arch Womens Ment Health,216-224. Retrieved July 16, 2019.

Kasawara, K. (2016). Translational studies for exercise in high-risk pregnancy: Pre-eclampsia model. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, SP, Brazil,35(3), 266-278. Retrieved July 17, 2019.

Matsuzaki, M. (20017). The Effects of a Yoga Exercise and Nutritional Guidance Program on Pregnancy Outcomes Among Healthy Pregnant Japanese Women: A Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial. THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE,24(6), 603-610. Retrieved July 17, 2019.

Shojaeian, N. (2017). Exercising during pregnancy: An experimental study of its effects on cognitive development in early infancy. Journal of Fundamentals in Psychological Health,346-1-364-7. Retrieved July 17, 2019.

Ward-Ritacco, C. (2016). Muscle strengthening exercises during pregnancy are associated with increased energy and reduced fatigue. Journal of Psycosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology,68-72. Retrieved July 17, 2019.

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