Pregnant Women Don't Get Enough Exercise
Only 1 in 6 Pregnant Women Exercise Regularly
WebMD News Archive
Nov. 11, 2005 -- Too many pregnant women may be taking their physical
fitness for granted during their pregnancy, according to a new study.
Researchers found only one in six pregnant women is getting the recommended
amount of exercise per week.
The results show that 16% of pregnant women get the recommended 30 or more
minutes of moderate physical activity on most if not all days of the week
compared with 27% of nonpregnant women.
"The message is not getting out that women should continue to exercise
during pregnancy, at least at moderate intensity," says researcher Terry
Leet, PhD, associate professor of community health at Saint Louis University
School of Public Health, in a news release.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that pregnant
women exercise with the same safeguards as nonpregnant women provided that
there are no complications during the pregnancy.
Pregnant Women Falling Behind on Exercise
In the study, which appears in the journal Medicine & Science in
Sports & Exercise, researchers analyzed data on more than 150,000
pregnant and nonpregnant women who were interviewed by phone in 1994, 1996,
1998, and 2000.
They found only 16% of pregnant women and 27% of nonpregnant women were
meeting the current federal physical activity recommendation by 2000.
In addition, the percentage of pregnant women who said they exercised at a
moderate or vigorous level was lower in 2000 than in previous years.
Pregnant women who were meeting their recommended exercise quota were more
likely to be younger, white, more educated, nonsmokers, and to have higher
The study showed that walking was the most common form of exercise among
both pregnant (52%) and nonpregnant women (45%). Other popular activities among
all the women surveyed were swimming and aerobic classes.
Researchers say the results suggest that obstetricians and gynecologists
need to do a better job at encouraging women without pregnancy complications to
"These women should be encouraged to begin moderate activities most, if
not all days of the week, as long as medical or obstetric complications do not
exist," says Leet.