The Effect of Physical Activity During Pregnancy and Neonatal Outcomes

ben bunting BA(Hons) PgCert Sport & Exercise Nutriton  Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert.


The objective of this article was to examine the influence of physical activity during pregnancy on neonatal outcomes. Specifically, researchers focused on the benefits of an exercise program for healthy, active, sedentary, and low-activity pregnant women. They conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that addressed these questions. In total, 14 RCTs met the inclusion criteria.

Moderate exercise improves maternal and neonatal outcomes

A recent study has evaluated the effects of maternal exercise on the fetal growth of the offspring. According to the study, women who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous exercise three times a week delivered smaller infants than women who did not exercise. While there are limitations to this study, the findings are still encouraging. In a study, women who engaged in vigorous exercise during the third trimester delivered infants that weighed approximately 200-400g less than women who did not exercise.

Recent systematic reviews and meta-analyses have reported a positive effect of exercise during pregnancy. However, despite the positive findings, many practitioners are still wary of recommending exercise to pregnant women with certain conditions, such as a history of preterm labor, diabetes, or obesity. Consequently, this systematic review aims to provide evidence-based support for the efficacy of exercise during pregnancy in both obese and normal weight mothers.

Exercise is safe

The benefits of exercise during pregnancy include improved health and well-being for both the mother and the baby. Physical activity increases maternal energy levels and promotes appropriate gestational weight gain. In addition, regular exercise helps reduce stress levels and improves sleep. Furthermore, it can reduce the risk of antenatal depression.

However, exercising during pregnancy is not without risks. Women should consult with their health care providers to discuss their physical activity plan. Some of them may be limited in their ability to exercise, while others may have to modify their routines in order to avoid adverse effects on the fetus. Other common barriers to exercise during pregnancy include nausea and fatigue.

Exercise during pregnancy is generally considered safe, although recommendations vary. All pregnant women should undergo a prenatal medical checkup to rule out any risks. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has published guidelines on exercise during pregnancy. Among other things, the guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. However, few studies have examined specific types of exercise during pregnancy. Strength-training and endurance-based exercises are most commonly recommended.

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One study aimed at examining the effects of exercise on the health and outcomes of newborns found that moderate-to-vigorous resistance exercise during pregnancy had no adverse effect on Apgar scores. However, low-intensity exercise was associated with a higher neonatal morbidity rate in both groups. This may be related to the higher proportion of premature and low-birth weight infants in the group.

In addition to the benefits of exercise, it can improve the health of women with gestational diabetes and improve their infant's neonatal outcomes. However, there are also risks associated with exercise, and the effects of exercise on pregnant women and their babies are not well understood.

The findings of this study have important implications for health care and policies. The study's participants were randomized before 20 weeks gestation using a randomization procedure, based on an opaque envelope. This envelope was statistically generated and used to determine the intervention group. The study included 41 women. During the antenatal phase, participants were enrolled by phone. They were not required to exercise at the time of pregnancy.

Exercise in a temperature-controlled environment

Exercise in a temperature-controlled environment during early pregnancy can be beneficial for both the mother and the fetus. The main safety concern is prolonged exposure to high temperatures, so pregnant women should be hydrated and wear loose-fitting clothing while exercising. Moreover, a pregnant woman should avoid prolonged exposure to heat and humidity, as these conditions can increase the risk of neural tube defects. However, a recent study suggests that exercising in a temperature-controlled environment during pregnancy does not increase the fetus's core temperature beyond safe limits.

The study showed that aerobic exercise during pregnancy improved maternal weight gain, lower caesarean delivery rates, and decreased rates of gestational diabetes. In addition, women who exercised during pregnancy experienced fewer problems with antenatal depression. However, moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise did not affect birth weight. This is important because birth weight is the single most important predictor of neonatal morbidity.

While pregnant humans have not been studied as closely as mammals, researchers have conducted hundreds of studies involving pregnant women. In these studies, pregnant women volunteered to participate in exercises, providing essential physiologic data related to exercise exposure. The participants were subjected to stationary exercise modalities with progressive increases in workloads ranging from 55% to 90% of their individualized maximum Vo2 (Vo2 max).

While moderate-intensity exercise during pregnancy has been shown to be beneficial for both the mother and fetus, further studies are needed to determine whether moderate-intensity exercise can improve pregnancy outcomes. The benefits of exercise during pregnancy include reduced fatigue and musculoskeletal pain, and improved body image.

The authors of a systematic review found that moderate-intensity exercise performed in a temperature-controlled environment decreased the risk of prematurity and GDM in the infant. These studies included 2 studies, each with a different duration and level of exercise.

In addition to the benefits for mother and fetus, exercise during pregnancy can also have long-term benefits for the mother. For instance, exercise can enhance the mother's resiliency to low nutrient supply. While most pregnant women can safely engage in moderate intensity exercise, there are certain medical conditions that limit aerobic exercise during pregnancy. It is important to seek medical advice from specialists, particularly if a pregnant woman is uncertain of the safety of exercise.

What is the risk of preeclampsia?

Physical activity during pregnancy has been linked to better birth outcomes. A systematic review of studies found that physical activity during pregnancy was associated with a decreased risk of preeclampsia. However, few randomized controlled trials have confirmed this association. In the current study, the effect of physical activity on neonatal outcomes was investigated using a meta-analysis approach.

However, more research is needed to determine how physical activity can affect the health of a newborn. In addition, adherence strategies should be developed that target specific subgroups of women and increase their motivation to exercise regularly throughout pregnancy. Physical activity during pregnancy is beneficial for mother and baby, so promoting regular exercise should be a priority for both parents.

Physical activity during pregnancy can help to maintain maternal fitness during pregnancy and may reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery. However, additional research is needed to explore the effects of exercise on pregnancy-specific conditions, identify effective behavioral counseling methods, and identify optimal types of physical activity and frequency and intensity.


Physical activity during pregnancy has a number of health benefits, including reduced gestational hypertension and a lower birth weight. Studies also show that aerobic exercise can lower glucose levels in women with gestational diabetes and prevent preeclampsia. In addition, exercise has been shown to decrease overall weight gain in overweight and obese women.

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