FRIDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Most pregnant women don't
get enough physical activity throughout the day to prevent excess
weight gain, a new study finds.
If a woman gains too much weight during pregnancy, it increases
her risk for complications such as preeclampsia (high blood
pressure and excess protein in the urine) and for obesity after
delivery, and also ups the baby's risk for childhood obesity.
Along with helping control weight, regular physical activity can
help reduce back pain, boost energy levels and reduce insomnia.
Many pregnant women have exercise programs, but they tend to
focus on physical-activity guidelines of 30 minutes a day. This
study, however, found that staying active throughout the day is
more beneficial in preventing excess weight gain.
"We were able to show that pregnant women spend 75 percent of
the time they are awake in sedentary behaviors," Christina
Campbell, an associate professor of food science and human
nutrition at Iowa State University, said in a university news
release. "Many of these women met physical-activity guidelines, but
just because you meet the guidelines doesn't necessarily mean
you're a non-sedentary person."
Campbell and her colleagues monitored activity levels and the
amount of calories burned by pregnant women. A woman who went for a
brisk, 30-minute walk burned about three times the number of
calories as when she was at rest.
But the amount of physical activity throughout the day had more
impact. For example, a woman who didn't have a specific workout
session but was active all day -- such as a waitress or a mother
who has young children and is always on the move -- would get more
exercise and burn more calories overall than a woman who had an
exercise session but was otherwise inactive during the day.
The findings show that it's important for pregnant women to
increase their overall daily levels of activity.
"Maybe it means that you make a conscious effort, if you have a
desk job, to get up every hour and make a loop around your building
for five minutes," Campbell said. "Or maybe you walk to work or
make an effort to park farther away or take the stairs. Really just
those simple little things that we've been saying all along, but
instead we find so many ways to cut corners on being active."
This study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical
journal. Data and conclusions of studies typically are considered
preliminary until they are published.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about
exercise during pregnancy.