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Pregnant Exercisers Can Improve Aerobic Fitness

Studies show that women can benefit from starting a cardio program during the prenatal period.

Prenatal exercise

Historically, pregnant women were discouraged from exercising out of concerns that it could be harmful. While there are now various exercise guidelines and recommendations for pregnancy, the effect of prenatal exercise on cardiorespiratory fitness has not been systematically examined. To address this, Canadian researchers from the University of Alberta in Edmonton conducted a meta-analysis of studies.

According to the findings, available in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2020; 52 [7], 1538–48), prenatal exercise can be a beneficial and effective way to increase maternal cardiorespiratory fitness, even for women who were inactive before becoming pregnant. With higher aerobic fitness levels come improvements in blood pressure measurements, aerobic capacity and resting heart rate, all of which contribute to better prenatal health.

This research focused on moderate-intensity exercise. More information is needed on the effects of vigorous-intensity exercise, since research in this area is significantly lacking.

See also: Active Pregnant Moms Boost Babies’ Fitness


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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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