The Fitness Zone
A US study has shown that physical activity throughout the day is more important in preventing women from gaining weight during pregnancy than the recommended 30 minutes of daily moderate exercise.
Researchers at Iowa State University taped a calorie monitor to the arms of pregnant women in their second and third trimesters, and a second monitor to their leg that measured whether they were standing, sitting or lying down. The aim was to capture the MET, or metabolic equivalent of task, to identify which activities burned the most calories.
They found that the woman who were active all day long, whether because they worked as a waitress, or because they had young children at home, burned more calories than the pregnant women who went to the gym for their recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise.
A review of academic studies found that the majority of weight loss programs built around a 30-minute daily exercise routine were unsuccessful.
The study found that most of the pregnant women were sedentary 75% of the time, and sleep loss was one of the reasons. Fewer than 40% of the women got their recommended seven to nine hours of sleep during their second and third trimesters.
Physical activity is a strong predictor for weight gain in late pregnancy. A mother's excessive weight gain has implications for her unborn child, who is more likely to suffer from obesity in later life. It also has health risks for both baby and mother, such as pre-eclampsia. Weight gain during pregnancy also heightens the mother's risk of post-partum obesity and hypertension.
The researchers of the study concluded that pregnant women at risk of weight gain need to move more throughout the day during pregnancy.