Exercise During Pregnancy:

There are surprisingly few peer-reviewed research articles on the benefits of performing either resistance training or cardio during pregnancy. Here are some key points attained from current research:

Benefits:

Weight Management –
This is something most women are concerned with as the weight can be hard to get off after pregnancy. One study found that women who exercised regularly during pregnancy gained 20% less weight than those who did not. Other studies have shown that women who gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy are significantly heavier long term after pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes –
Gestational Diabetes affects up to 10% of pregnant women and increases the chances of becoming diabetic postpartum as well and increasing the chances of the child becoming obese later in life. One study showed exercising regularly reduced the instance of Gestational Diabetes by 59%!

Preclampsia-
Preclampsia is the 2nd leading cause of death among pregnant mothers. It involves hypertension, proteinurea, and edema. While there is limited research on exercise’s effects on the instance of Preclampsia during pregnancy, studies do show regular exercises reduces pregnancy-related hypertension and edema which suggests a reduced instance of Preclampsia.

Enhanced Body Image and Reduced Instance of Depression –
Studies have shown regular exercise improves the psychological view a pregnant mother has on her body and can significantly reduce pregnancy-related depression and anxiety. One study showed even a single bout of exercise reduced depression and improved mood.

Reduced Lower Back Pain, Improved Fetal Development, and Easier Labor –
Studies have shown that all of these are improved with regular exercise, including shorter duration of labor, reduced instance of premature delivery. Being that lower back pain can affect up to 76% of pregnancies, via increased curvature of the spine and a changed center of gravity, it’s very important to note that studies show exercise significantly reduces the instances of it.

*Source – NSCA’s Strength & Conditioning Journal – Oct. 2011