3/9/17 Research Review

A Fit Pregnancy for a Fit Baby: Highlights in Research

Coaches and women all over the world are training to build healthy babies but there is still a lot of fear around the exercising pregnant body. Study after study continues to show that appropriate exercise is safe and beneficial for pregnancy. Even for women that don’t exercise!!

Every workout is actually improving the outcomes and experiences of labor and pregnancy. We’re talking experiences like less pain and a lower risk of emotional lows. Unfortunately women around the world continue to choose poor lifestyle habits which leads to more medical interventions, less healthy babies and even long-term health consequences for mom and child. Things that you have the power to change.

Let’s look at excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Many a pint of ice cream has been justified by “eating for two.” However, being pregnant is no longer an excuse for poor eating and laziness. It’s not only putting increased stress on the mom’s body, it’s putting her at risk for gestational (pregnancy) diabetes (which puts her at increased risk of diabetes later in life) and preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes can also lead to a difficult labor due to a larger fetus (known as macrosomia). Preeclampsia is a serious condition that can result in death to the mother and/or fetus. Thankfully, exercise has been shown to reduce risks of excessive weight gain and reducing blood pressure in pregnant women! Check out the findings below:

Moderate and Vigorous Intensity Exercise During Pregnancy and Gestational Weight Gain (GWG) in Women with Gestational Diabetes (GDM)


In the full cohort, any participation in vigorous intensity exercise was associated with decreased odds of GWG above recommended ranges as compared to no participation [Odds Ratio (95% Confidence Interval): 0.63 (0.40, 0.99)], with a significant trend for decreasing odds of excess GWG with increasing level of vigorous intensity exercise.


In women with GDM (gestational diabetes mellitus), particularly overweight and obese women, vigorous intensity exercise during pregnancy may reduce the odds of excess GWG (gestational weight gain).

Key Points:

  • Specific to women of a BMI > or = to 25
  • Vigorous intensity exercise associated w/ 54% decreased risk
  • No effect observed with moderate exercise

Exercise during pregnancy protects against hypertension and macrosomia: randomized clinical trial


High attendance to the exercise program regardless of BMI showed that pregnant women who did not exercise are 3 times more likely to develop hypertension (odds ratio [OR], 2.96; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.29–6.81, P = .01) and are 1.5 times more likely to gain excessive weight if they do not exercise (OR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.06–2.03, P = .02). Pregnant women who do not exercise are also 2.5 times more likely to give birth to a macrosomic infant (OR, 2.53; 95% CI, 1.03–6.20, P = .04).


Maternal exercise may be a preventative tool for hypertension and excessive GWG, and may control offspring size at birth while reducing comorbidities related to chronic disease risk.

Key Points: Regardless of BMI, pregnant women who didn’t exercise…

  • Were 2.5 times more likely to have to push a huuuuge baby out
  • Were 3 times more likely to have hypertension
  • Were 1.5 more times more likely to gain excessive weight

What does this all mean? Women need your help. Whether they want to get pregnant, are pregnant, and whether they exercise or not. So if they give you excuses…you give them research and assurance that you are there for them and baby.