Researchers have recently begun to theorize that preeclampsia and cardiovascular disease may have similar traits. Since physical activity has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, physically active pregnant women are being tested to assess their risk for preeclampsia.
In one study, moderate-intensity recreational activity in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy reduced the risk of preeclampsia by 24 percent. Vigorous physical activity during this time period was associated with a 54 percent reduction in risk. And a 60 percent reduction in risk was reported among women who engaged in vigorous recreational activity in the year before conception.
Why is this so? Some theories attribute the lowered risk to the improvement in size and vascularity of the placenta and the reduction of tissue stress caused by diminished oxygenation and restricted blood flow.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. The agency also says that many adults need to exercise for 60 minutes or more to prevent weight gain and people who have lost weight may need to exercise for 60 to 90 minutes to keep it off.
What type of exercise is best?
The simplest answer is: The one that you'll do now and continue to do after pregnancy!
Common sense would dictate that some activities should be adapted or discontinued in pregnancy:
-- Scuba diving should be avoided due to the fetal risk for diminished oxygen.
-- Activities that would increase the risk for abdominal trauma, such as ice hockey, kickboxing, soccer and horseback riding, should be carefully considered.
-- You shouldn't exercise to the point of exhaustion or dehydration.