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Pregnancy fitness: You could exercise or diet to limit weight gain, says study

Pregnant women can safely limit their weight gain with diet and exercise interventions said the results of a group of trials done by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). We give you 5 exercises that you must practise, if you are a pregnant woman, but remember to do them all under expert supervision in order to stay fit throughout the gestation period.

If a new research trial is to be believed, pregnant women can limit their weight gain by dieting and exercise interventions in order to reduce weight. Many overweight and obese women gain too much weight during pregnancy, further ratcheting up the already increased risk of serious complications for themselves and their babies such as childhood obesity or diabetes.

"This is an important study because it affirms that women can change behaviours to control the amount of weight gained in pregnancy," said lead author Alan Peaceman from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, US reportedly.

However, 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. It could be because "by that time these women are already in the second trimester, it may already be late to change important outcomes", Peaceman said.

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"To lower the risk of obstetrical complications, they may have to start changing their lifestyle before or immediately after they conceive," he noted. 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.

But apart from dieting, it is often advisable for women to do different kinds of exercises. Here are a few of them:

  1. Swimming: "Swimming is also a remarkably beneficial exercise that helps alleviate gestational discomforts. Low impact aerobics too can benefit a lot during pregnancy by strengthening the heart and lungs and toning the whole body. But this should be learnt and practised only under the strict supervision of a certified teacher," said Dr Meghana Jetty Reddy , Consultant, Obstetrics And Gynaecology, Columbia Asia Hospital, Whitefield.
  2. Yoga: Prenatal as well as post-natal yoga is extremely helpful. There are tons of reasons for the same.
  3. Walking: Walking is an excellent form of exercise for pregnant woman and very beneficial too.
  4. Kegel Exercises: "Kegel exercise-alternately contracting and relaxing the pelvic muscles- is performed to strengthen the pelvic muscles, which helps to ease labour and delivery. Studies have shown that healthy pregnant women who exercise during gestation have much lesser risk of preterm delivery and are more likely to have a shorter labour. Post-partum recuperation is also faster in active mommies," explained Dr Reddy.
  5. Low impact cardio-vascular exercises: "During pregnancy your joints are already loose and flexible due to the release of a hormone called relaxin. With high impact cardio vascular exercises there is no need to put your body on a hyper flexibility mode," advised Vinata Shetty, Reebok master trainer, Qi gym, Mumbai. Choose low impact aerobics, brisk walking, cycling, yoga or even swimming.

(with inputs from IANS)

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