Unfortunately, exercise—which can counter obesity—is not increasing at a concomitant rate. As a result, an emphasis on healthy lifestyles, with exercise as a central theme, has become the focus of national and international efforts undertaken by such groups as the World Health Organization, many of our medical societies, and even certain governmental agencies.
Just as exercise outside of pregnancy has clear benefits, exercise during pregnancy is also very important. For example, we know that a woman with gestational diabetes can certainly improve glucose control with exercise. However, there are clearly guidelines that must be followed when engaging in exercise during pregnancy.
In this month's Master Class, my guest professor is Raul Artal, M.D., who is an internationally recognized expert in the area of exercise physiology and exercise in pregnancy. He will lead us through specific recommendations concerning exercise during pregnancy, with references to gestational diabetes, weight control, and postpartum exercise.
Dr. Artal is professor and chair of the department of ob.gyn. at St. Louis University. He received his medical degree in Israel and his residency and fellowship training in the United States. He served as a faculty member at University of Southern California in Los Angeles and as chairman of ob.gyn. at the State University of New York, Syracuse, before attaining his current position. Dr. Artal is the lead author of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Committee Opinion #267, “Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period.”
Contraindications To Exercise In Pregnancy
Hemodynamically significant heart disease
Restrictive lung disease
Multiple gestation at risk for premature labor
Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
Placenta previa that occurs after 26 weeks' gestation
Premature labor during the current pregnancy
Unevaluated maternal cardiac arrhythmia
Poorly controlled type 1 diabetes
Extreme morbid obesity
History of extremely sedentary lifestyle
Intrauterine growth restriction in current pregnancy
Poorly controlled hypertension
Poorly controlled seizure disorder
Poorly controlled hyperthyroidism
Source: Obstet. Gynecol. 2002;99:171–3