"Vigorous" exercise in the third trimester is safe

  • BMC Pregnancy Childbirth

  • International Clinical Digest
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Takeaway

  • Low-risk women who reported vigorous exercise during the third trimester have lower risks for preterm delivery.

Why this matters

  • During vigorous exercise, decrease in the utero-placental blood flow may occur, possibly putting the fetus at risk for fetal bradycardia and small for gestational age (SGA).
  • Moderate exercise on most days is recommended during pregnancy.
  • However, guidelines for vigorous exercise and trimester-specific guidelines do not currently exist.
  • These results can be used to reassure women that exercise throughout pregnancy is safe.

Key results

  • No difference in birth weight between women with vigorous exercise and controls (P=.79).
  • Women with vigorous exercise delivered at a later gestational age (P<.001>
  • No difference in maternal weight gain (P=.5).
  • No increased risk for perinatal adverse events.

Study design

  • Systematic review and meta-analysis.
  • 10 cohort studies (n=32,080 participants) and 5 randomised control trials (n=623 participants) included in systematic review, 13 studies included in the meta-analysis.
  • Low-risk women who reported vigorous or high-intensity exercise during the third trimester of pregnancy were included and compared with controls.
  • Incidence of SGA, preterm birth, and gestational age of delivery were extracted.
  • Funding: Faculty of Health Sciences at Australian Catholic University. 

Limitations

  • The definition of vigorous activity varied between studies.

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