EAST LANSING, Mich. Moderate physical activity during pregnancy does not contribute to low birth weight, premature birth or miscarriage and may actually reduce the risk of complications, according to a Michigan State University professor who contributed to the U.S. government's first-ever guidelines on physical activity.
Kinesiology professor James Pivarnik and doctoral students Lanay Mudd and Erin Kuffel wrote the section on pregnancy and postpartum activity as part of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines unveiled Oct. 7 in Washington, D.C., by the Department of Health and Human Services. Pivarnik, president-elect of the American College of Sports Medicine, attended the event and spoke on behalf of the organization and MSU.
"There has been quite a dramatic change in regards to pregnancy and exercise," said Pivarnik, who has studied the topic for more than 20 years. "While it used to be thought that avoiding exercise meant avoiding harm to the fetus, research now shows physical activity can not only improve health of the mother but also provide potential long-term benefits for the child."
Specifically, the guidelines call for women to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week during pregnancy and the postpartum period, preferably spread throughout the week. In addition to health benefits, moderate physical activity also may reduce the length of labor, evidence suggests. The guidelines call for women to avoid doing activities that involve lying on their back after the first trimester and activities with high risk of falling or abdominal trauma.
During the postpartum period, regular physical activity continues to benefit a woman's overall health, according to Pivarnik's research, by increasing her cardiorespiratory fitness and improving her mood. Physical activity after pregnancy also helps women achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and when combined with appropriate caloric restriction, pro
|Contact: Jason Cody|
Michigan State University