A resistance training exercise routine can be beneficial to mother and child and has no correlation to increased risk of complications during pregnancy, according to a recent study conducted by Michigan State University in partnership with Anytime Fitness and AnytimeHealth.com.

The first-of-its-kind study focused on 214 women who had given birth within the last five years, 57 of whom performed resistance training an average of 2.9 days per week for 30 minutes a session using what`s called the F.I.T.T. principle: focus on frequency, intensity, time and exercise type - during the first trimester.

Of the women studied, 56 percent primarily used free weights and 37 percent used weight machines. Overall, the study found that the women who performed resistance training during pregnancy were similar to those who did not in respect to maternal weight gain, gestational age at delivery, length of infant at birth, and birth weight.

"We know aerobic activity has been shown to improve the health of mother and child during pregnancy and with this new research we can now say that resistance training can be beneficial as well during the first trimester," said Michigan State University Kinesiology Professor, Dr. Jim Pivarnik. "These preliminary results suggest that not only is this type of exercise safe, but the study also found that weight lifting may help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes pregnancy, induced hypertension and weight control, since the women in the study who resistance trained had a lower pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI.)"

The F.I.T.T. principle is an easy way for expectant mothers to begin to improve their muscular strength and endurance, and includes four easy steps to a healthier lifestyle:

• Frequency: 3 days a week
• Intensity: Low amount of weights and higher repetitions (around 12 to 15)
• Time: 20 to 30 minutes a session
• Type: Free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or kettle bells

"Staying fit and active during pregnancy can have positive effects on mother and child and the F.I.T.T. principle is a great place to start to improve muscular strength and endurance," said Brian Zehetner, director of AnytimeHealth.com, one of the study`s co-sponsors. "In addition to resistance training, it is important to combine that with aerobic activity throughout the week as well."

Pivarnik and Zehetner recommend the following tips for pregnant women to stay motivated and to make exercise more enjoyable:

• Start slow and build up to your goal.
• Work out with a friend, or a group of friends (bring your stroller if you need to!).
• Find a group exercise class – many options, such as yoga, Pilates, or Zumba, will improve both cardio and muscular strength.
• Sneak physical activity into daily life by taking a 10-minute walk at lunch or during breaks.
• Find exercises to do at home with resistance bands, so you can work out while the kids are napping.

"It is important to remember that women should always communicate with a health care provider before initiating an exercise program," Pivarnik said.

Source: Anytime Fitness Press Release

Originally posted by DiabetesCare.net on September 9, 2011.