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Extreme pregnancy: A look at exercise and expectant moms

Rock-climbing during pregnancy? Though it's something many women (myself included) couldn't imagine doing, extreme sports such as this aren't always avoided by expectant moms. A recent USA Today piece introduced readers to a Utah woman who's scaling rocks while 39 weeks pregnant (!) and discussed the larger issue of exercise and moms-to-be:

Not only can exercise during pregnancy make for an easier labor and delivery, it can help prevent excessive weight gain, decreasing the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, a leading cause of illness and death in moms and babies.

"For years, women were discouraged from either continuing or initiating exercise in pregnancy," says Andrew Satin, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins Bayview in Baltimore. "I think that's recently been questioned on a lot of fronts."

Still, Satin says, doctors often don't encourage it because of safety concerns: "There's been a lack of good quality research."

The article went on to provide exercise tips for moms, and I would add that it would be prudent for pregnant women to err on the side of caution - and talk with their physician - when making decisions about exercise type. Stanford obstetrician Deirdre Lyell, MD,  once told me she advises pregnant women to avoid activities that cause their heart rate to rise above 140 beats/minute or carry a high risk of a contact-related injury.

Previously: Study: Exercise may not stave off gestational diabetes, How safe is rigorous exercise during pregnancy?, Could exercise before and during early pregnancy lower risk of pre-eclampsia?, Pregnant and on the move: The importance of exercise for moms-to-be and Pregnant curler competing in Olympics

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