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Diet, exercise safe to prevent obesity during pregnancy, says study

Exercise is great for everybody regardless of the age, medical condition or gender. But for pregnant women, there had always been concerns about diet and exercise. Now, a new study allays those fears.

Pregnant women can safely limit their weight gain with diet and exercise interventions, says a study by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). There is already enough complications when it comes to overweight and obese women and pregnancy. Gaining weight during pregnancy can up the risk of serious complications such as childhood obesity or diabetes, for them and the baby. Lead author Alan Peaceman from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, US, said that the study affirmed that 'women can change behaviours to control the amount of weight gained in pregnancy.' The study also notes, however, that the 'reduced weight gain -- about four pounds per woman -- did not result in fewer obstetrical complications, including caesarean sections, diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia, or change the average birth weight of the baby.'

This could be because it is usually late to change the outcome by the second trimester. The author states that to lower the risk of obstetrical complications, diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes need to occur 'before or immediately after they conceive.'

For the study, published in the journal Obesity, the teams recruited 1,150 participants (579 women had the lifestyle intervention, 571 had standard care), which ran from the second trimester to birth. Each trial offered a varied lifestyle intervention but all aimed to improve diet quality and reduce calories, increase physical activity and incorporate behaviour strategies such as self-monitoring. Overweight and obese women are a critical group to target because they have higher rates of excess pregnancy weight gain and of retaining that weight postpartum. They are also more likely to have children who are obese.

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These are some of the best and the safest exercises for pregnant women that can prevent weight gain and obesity:

  • Yoga: Stress-busting breathing exercises like Pranayama are very good to keep calm throughout pregnancy. You must especially try Nadi Shodhan Pranayam (Alternate Nostril Breathing) and Bhramari Pranayama (Bumble Bee breathing). These can help your mind focus and help you get through physical discomforts that you may have.
  • Aqua Yoga: In this, asanas are performed in the water. Aqua yoga reduces the gravitational pull causing less stress on your body. Your body has to work more on the balance because of the constant motion of water, with less pain. The swimming pool is a great place for trying tough poses as there is less chance of you hurting yourself from a fall.
  • Aqua Aerobics: These involve aerobic exercises in water. These have less impact on the joints.
  • Exercise with low weight dumbbells: It is great to do leg extensions, overhead extensions and triceps extensions that will increase your blood circulation and help you gain muscle strength.

With inputs from IANS

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