Weight training during pregnancy shown to be safe

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Pregnancy, weight training
Advertisement

New evidence shows supervised weight training safe when pregnant

Low to moderate weight training is found by researchers at University of Georgia to be safe and beneficial during pregnancy. The findings, published in the “Journal of Physical Activity and Health,” found women can increase strength through weight lifting even though they are pregnant, gaining weight and their bodies are changing.

No effect on blood pressure from weight lifting during pregnancy

The study investigators noted decreased blood pressure can occur after a workout and might be beneficial for pregnant women who can become hypertensive and develop preeclampsia. Conversely, avoiding hypertension is important for a healthy pregnancy.

According to Patrick O’Connor, a researcher in the department of kinesiology in the UGA College of Education, “We wanted to see if a weight training program would lower blood pressure, which would be beneficial, or if potentially on the other side it would raise blood pressure, which would be of concern to a pregnant woman.”

The investigators monitored the 32 women enrolled in trial who were given a series of six weight-training exercises twice a week over a 12-week period. None of the pregnant women developed change in blood pressure during the sessions or after the twelve-week study.

Study focused on muscles that could help pregnancy related back pain

Advertisement

For the study, researchers focused on weight training in pregnant women that targeted muscles related to back pain and function.

During pregnancy, women produce a hormone known as relaxin in preparation for childbirth. The result is reduced elasticity of connective tissue that facilitates deliver but also puts women at risk for orthopedic injuries.

According to O’Connor, relaxin production is one of the reasons physicians have been reluctant in prescribing weight lifting for pregnant women.

Women participating in weight training experienced some pelvic pain, headache and dizziness in thirteen instances out of the 618 workout sessions. Some of the women experienced dizziness that occurred early in the study, but O’Connor explains the rates declined after several sessions as the women learned to breathe and lift weights properly.

The authors say now that they have provided evidence that weight training during pregnancy is safe and effective they plan to find out if exercising with weights can help alleviate back pain for pregnant women.

Advertisement