Women who exercise throughout pregnancy tend to stay healthier for decades, research shows.
Continuing a vigorous weight-bearing exercise program during pregnancy appears to be a marker of women who spontaneously maintain this practice over time, resulting in a low cardiovascular risk profile when they approach menopause, Dr James F. Clapp III from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland suggests in a report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
He conducted a long-term study of a group of women initially studied serially before, during, and for one year after pregnancy 18-20 years ago. Prior to becoming pregnant, the women ran, cross-country skied, and/or performed aerobics several times a week.
The analysis included 20 women who continued exercise throughout pregnancy and 19 women who stopped or reduced their exercise volume by at least 75% before the 12th week of pregnancy. The women resumed a regular recreational exercise program by six months after delivery.
What the study showed
Results showed that the women who had exercised while pregnant were exercising at 82% of their pre-pregnancy level, whereas the other women were exercising at about 52%.
Compared to women who had decreased exercise during pregnancy, those who maintained exercise while pregnant gained less weight over time and tended to have a higher self-assessed body image.
Those who exercised through pregnancy also had a lower resting heart rate and lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol. They also were more competent exercisers as demonstrated by shorter 2-mile run times. – (Reuters Health, December 2008)