Contrary to popular perception, exercising up to the end of pregnancy seems to be healthy for the baby and mother, says a new study.
Research by Polytechnic University-Madrid (PU-M) shows there is a positive relationship between the weight of sedentary mothers before pregnancy and the body size of their babies.
"An exercise regime carried out during the second and third trimester of pregnancy does not harm the health of the foetus," says Jonatan R. Ruiz of Karolinska Institute, Sweden, and principal study author, who has collaborated with PU-M.
As many as 160 healthy but sedentary women, aged between 25 and 35 years, participated in the study, all of whom had no risk of premature birth.
Half followed an exercise regime under the supervision of physical experts in collaboration with the gynaecology and obstetrics unit of Hospital Severo Ochoa in Madrid.
Researchers also analysed the effect of the training programme carried out during the second and third trimester of pregnancy on the weight and size of the foetus.
The authors also measured the pre-pregnancy body weight of the mother, the body size of the foetus, and whether diabetes was developed during gestation.
In the group of women who did not partake in any exercise (control group), it was observed that the mother's weight before becoming pregnant was positively associated with the weight of the newborn, says a PU-M release.
"Sedentary mothers gave birth to heavier newborns. This relationship, however, was not observed in the group of women who exercised during pregnancy," Ruiz concludes.
Babies with excessive weight (more than four kg) are more at risk of developing diabetes and certain types of cancer as adults, in addition to complications that may occur at birth.
The conclusions appear in the International Journal of Obesity.