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A long standing debate between doctors and fitness professionals is whether or not weight training is safe for pregnant women. Now, a new study indicates that there is no risk to muscular or orthopedic injury as a result of these mothers-to-be lifting weights. The study was conducted at the University of Georgia and is published in the recent edition of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. It looked specifically at the increase in the amount of weight used over time, the mothers’ blood pressure at rest and other warning signs or contraindications after exercise. Thirty-two pregnant women participated in the 12 week study encompassing a total of 618 cumulative sessions.
Researchers believe that over time doctors were concerned about the effectiveness and safety of resistance training for pregnant women due to lack of research in this category. According to Patrick O’Connor, one of the researchers on the University of Georgia Study, “I think that the appropriate conclusion of this study is that the adoption of a supervised, low-to-moderate intensity weight-lifting exercise program can be safe for women with a low-risk pregnancy.”
The pregnant participants in the research study performed a sequence of six exercise two times a week. The muscles focused primarily upon were those that played a part in strengthening against back soreness and increasing overall function. The progression of weight over the three month timeframe was that of more than 3 percent. The overall conclusion, according to O’Connor, was that the women increased their strength during their pregnancy even without having prior weight training experience and changed their body as the baby continues to develop.
During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin is produced at increased levels to prepare the woman’s body for childbirth. Relaxin literally makes the connective tissues more lax. O’Connor stated that the purpose of focusing primarily on “low-to-moderate exercise, is to avoid injury associated with increased relaxin in the body.”