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Exercise in obese pregnant women: positive impacts and current perceptions

Authors Sui Z, Dodd JM

Published Date July 2013 Volume 2013:5 Pages 389—398

DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/IJWH.S34042

Received 25 March 2013, Accepted 1 May 2013, Published 3 July 2013

Zhixian Sui,1 Jodie M Dodd1,2

1The University of Adelaide, Robinson Institute, Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, 2Department of Perinatal Medicine, Women’s and Babies Division, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Abstract: Overweight and obesity have significant implications during pregnancy and childbirth. The objective of this review was to provide a comprehensive overview of the effect of physical activity on pregnancy outcomes, the change of physical activity during pregnancy, and women’s perception of being physically active during pregnancy, with a particular focus on women who are overweight or obese. Many studies have investigated the beneficial effect of exercise during pregnancy, including reduced risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and operative birth, in addition to improved cardiovascular function, overall fitness, psychological well-being, and mood stability. Benefits for the infant include reduced risks of prematurity and improved fetal growth, although there is more limited information about longer-term health benefits for both women and infants. The existing literature examining physical activity patterns during pregnancy has generally focused on women of all body mass index categories, consistently indicating a reduction in activity over the course of pregnancy. However, the available literature evaluating physical activity during pregnancy among women who are overweight or obese is more limited and contradictory. A number of studies identified barriers preventing women from being active during pregnancy, including pregnancy symptoms, lack of time, access to child care, and concerns about their safety and that of their unborn baby. Conversely, significant enablers included positive psychological feelings, family influence, and receiving advice from health professionals. Very few studies have provided insights about perceptions of being active during pregnancy in the overweight and obese population. There is a need for a detailed description of physical activity patterns during pregnancy in women who are overweight or obese, and more randomized trials evaluating exercise interventions for women who are overweight or obese, with a focus on clinical outcomes.

Keywords: pregnancy, exercise, physical activity, overweight, obesity

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