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A Focus on Exercise For Mothers-To-Be Could Help Their Babies' Heart Health

By HERWriter
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Pregnancy related image Photo: Getty Images

Moms-to-be, now there is even more reason to start exercising during your pregnancy. A new study being presented this weekend found that moms-to-be can “exercise” their efforts to give their new baby a healthier heart.

As reported on ScienceDaily, com, the study was conducted at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. The study results are being presented at the Experimental Biology 2011 annual meeting in Washington, DC. Exercise physiologist and anatomist, Linda E. May headed up the study. She told ScienceDaily.com, "Most of the focus today is on school-age children, but interventions should be focused long before that."

A prior study in 2008 conducted by May found that women who exercised at least 30 minutes, three times a week throughout their pregnancy, had fetuses with lower heart rates. Those of us who work in prenatal exercise know the benefits of exercise for the mother. But, these findings underscore the benefits for the unborn child. A lower resting heart rate is a good indication of a healthy heart.

This year May and her colleagues have discovered the longer-standing effects of exercise on newborn babies. Her findings indicate that for the babies born to the women in the study, cardiovascular level was consistently maintained one month after delivery. This indication is encouraging for new mother’s to exercise during their pregnancy. The study evaluated both 61 pregnant women and their unborn child’s cardiovascular health.

This is not the first study indicating the positive effects of prenatal exercise for the unborn child. A prior study featured last year on ScienceDaily.com showed that moms-to-be who exercised also helped to prevent childhood obesity while their baby is still in the womb. That study was published in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The findings of the study were that consistent moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity led to a small reduction in birth weight.

Paul Hofman, MD, of the University of Auckland in New Zealand and co-author as reported in ScienceDaily.com says, "Given that large birth size is associated with an increased risk of obesity, a modest reduction in birth weight may have long-term health benefits for offspring by lowering this risk later in life.”

Exercise during pregnancy is important, but it is also helpful to seek out the appropriate professionals and classes. You may want to seek out a prenatal yoga class or a mom-to-be strength training class. Prenatal Pilates is also safe, as long as you are working with an experienced prenatal Pilates Instructor.

As your body changes through the various trimesters, the Pilates exercises can be changed as well. Pilates exercises can be modified and adapted as your body physically changes. While the focus is always on core stability and lengthening of the muscles, the range of motion can be adjusted to fit your body.

There is also evidence that resistance training during pregnancy can be beneficial to most women, as reported in a recent study in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. According to Patrick O’Connor, researcher at the University of Georgia, “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.”


“Labor of Love: Physically Active Moms-To-Be Give Babies a Head Start On Heart Health
– ScienceDaily.com.” Science Daily. Web 1 Sept. 2011.

“Exercise in Pregnancy Reduces Size of Offspring, Study Suggests – ScienceDaily.com.” Science Daily. Web 1 Sept. 2011.

Human Kinetics Journal, Journal for Physical Activity and Health, “Safety and Efficacy of Supervised Strength Training Adopted in Pregnancy, Volume 8, Issue 3, March
Authors: Patrick J. O'Connor, Melanie S. Poudevigne, M. Elaine Cress, Robert W. Motl, James F. Clapp, III

Joanne Sgro-Killworth is a Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist. She is Certified in Pilates, Pre-natal/Post-Partum, Yoga and Senior Fitness. She specializes in Weight Loss, Post-Rehab and Post Cancer Training. Joanne's fitness plans and recipes are available globally on her website www.fitnessanswer.com. She resides in the Phoenix, AZ area with her husband, where she runs her personal training business, Fitness Answer, LLC.

Reviewed September 2, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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