It’s been well established among doctors and researchers alike that babies with lower birth weight have a greater risk of having high blood pressure later in life.
However, a Michigan University study is the first to suggest that the exercise habits of expecting moms can actually reverse this long-standing belief and possibly lower a child’s chances of high blood pressure, even though they may weigh less at birth.
High blood pressure or hypertension, is a key factor in cardiovascular health. The research is a sun in getting at the issue of genetic preprogramming of a child’s health characteristics while in the womb and can be found in the Journal of Sports Medline and physical fitness.
We looked at a range of normal birth weight babies, some falling at the lower end of the scale, and surprisingly we found that this lower birth weight and higher blood pressure relationship in these offspring is not supported if the women were physically active,” said Akin chaktty, lead author and kinesiology professor at MSU.
The concentration was disrupted, including that exercise may in some way alter cardiovascular risk that occurs in the utero.
This phenomenon is linked to what’s known as the foetal origins hypothesis.
According to healthpally, it suggests if something strenuous happens to a mother and her unborn child during critical growth periods in the pregnancy, permanent changes can occur that can affect the health of the baby.
Pivarnik and his colleagues initially evaluated 51 women over a five-year period based on physical activity such as running or walking throughout pregnancy and post-pregnancy.
In a follow up to the study, they found that regular exercise in a subset of these women, particularly during the third trimester, was associated with lower blood pressure in their children.
When to exercise during pregnancy
During pregnancy, it is generally safe and beneficial to exercise throughout all trimesters, but it’s important to consider certain factors and make adjustments as needed.
Here are some guidelines on when to exercise during pregnancy:
Consult with your healthcare provider: Before starting or continuing an exercise program, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider.
They can assess your individual health and pregnancy circumstances and provide specific recommendations or restrictions.
If you were already physically active before pregnancy, you can generally continue your exercise routine during the first trimester.
However, it’s important to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed.
Some women may experience fatigue or morning sickness during this time, so choose exercises that are comfortable and don’t overexert yourself, Akin chaktty said.
The second trimester is often considered the most comfortable and stable period for exercising during pregnancy, chaktty said
Many women find that symptoms such as morning sickness subside, and they have more energy. During this time, you can engage in a wider range of exercises, including low-impact aerobic activities, prenatal yoga, swimming, and walking.
However, it’s still important to avoid high-impact exercises and activities that involve a high risk of falling or injury.
As you enter the third trimester, your body undergoes more physical changes, and it’s important to modify your exercise routine accordingly.
You may experience increased fatigue, shortness of breath, and a larger belly, so it’s advisable to focus on low-impact exercises, gentle stretching, and activities that promote relaxation and prepare the body for labor, sexpally experts advised.
Prenatal yoga, swimming, stationary cycling, and walking are often recommended during this period.
Avoid exercises that put pressure on your abdomen or involve lying flat on your back, according to healthpally.
General considerations: Regardless of the trimester, there are general considerations to keep in mind while exercising during pregnancy.
Stay hydrated, wear comfortable clothing and supportive shoes, and choose appropriate exercise environments. Warm up before exercising and cool down afterward, and listen to your body.
If you experience any pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath, stop exercising and seek medical advice.
Remember, every pregnancy is unique, and it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider for personalised recommendations, chaktty said.
They can provide guidance based on your health, any underlying conditions, and the progress of your pregnancy.
Benefits of exercises for expectant mothers
Exercises during pregnancy offer numerous benefits for expectant mothers. Here are some of the key advantages:
Improved overall health
Regular exercise during pregnancy helps maintain cardiovascular fitness, increases muscle strength and endurance, and improves overall body flexibility.
It can also help manage weight gain, reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, and enhance the immune system.
Increased energy levels
Engaging in appropriate physical activity can alleviate pregnancy-related fatigue and boost energy levels.
Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers, helping pregnant women feel more energized and positive.
Reduced pregnancy discomfort
Many common discomforts associated with pregnancy, such as backaches, constipation, swelling, and bloating, can be relieved or minimised through regular exercise.
Strengthening and stretching exercises can help alleviate muscle tension, improve posture, and reduce back pain.
Enhanced mood and mental well-being
Pregnancy can bring about hormonal changes that may lead to mood swings and emotional ups and downs.
Exercise acts as a natural stress reliever and promotes the release of endorphins, which elevate mood and reduce anxiety and depression.
Regular physical activity also promotes better sleep, which is vital for overall mental well-being.
Increased stamina for labour and delivery
Pregnancy and childbirth require significant physical effort. Regular exercise helps expectant mothers build stamina, endurance, and muscular strength, which can be beneficial during labour and delivery.
Strong muscles and cardiovascular fitness can make the process of giving birth more manageable.
Better postpartum recovery
Staying active during pregnancy can contribute to a faster recovery postpartum. Maintaining muscle tone, strength, and flexibility helps the body recover more quickly after childbirth. It also aids in regaining pre-pregnancy weight and shape.
Improved circulation and reduced swelling
Exercise promotes proper blood circulation, which can help reduce swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet—a common occurrence during pregnancy.
Physical activity encourages the movement of fluids throughout the body, minimising fluid retention and promoting healthier blood flow.
It is important for expectant mothers to consult with their doctor before starting or continuing any exercise program during pregnancy.
Each pregnancy is unique, and medical professionals can provide personalised advice based on the individual’s health condition and any potential risk factors.