Can pre-eclampsia be caused by exercise?

altEvery modern pregnant woman knows that different physical exercises are useful for her and her future baby. Most of the gynecologists and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advise them to do exercise regularly during 2 hours per week while they are pregnant and after the birth of a baby. Surely, the physical load shouldn’t become some sort of marathon. Only moderate intensity is recommended.

Women have also to remember that the physical exercises should be at first approved by their doctor.

However, the recent research demonstrates that the strong physical activity may cause pre-eclampsia. We want to remind to you that pre-eclampsia is such condition that has the symptoms of increasing of the blood pressure level of a pregnant woman and a spate of protein in the urine. These symptoms are very dangerous because can become the reason of new born baby’s death or even of his mother. There are also such of them as swelling, headaches and the appearance of overweight, besides the enumerated symptoms. 

The study looked at the leisure-time physical activity of 85,139 pregnant women in Denmark, assessing the time spent exercising, what type of exercises the women did, and at what intensity.

Among the findings, women who did moderate-level activities for long durations had an elevated risk of severe pre-eclampsia, but there was no correlation between low levels of vigorous activity only (from one to 269 minutes per week) and having the condition.

Severe pre-eclampsia risk was also higher for women whose vigorous activities lasted more than 270 minutes per week, compared with women who did no vigorous activity.

Exercise intensity levels were measured using metabolic equivalents, or the ratio of someone’s working metabolic rate compared with their resting metabolic rate. Researchers noticed a greater severe pre-eclampsia risk among women who came in at more than 40 Metabolic Equivalent Task hours per week, but saw a reduced risk among those in the range of 30 to 40 MET hours per week. Researchers estimated that about 40 MET hours per week was the equivalent of one hour of bicycling or 50 minutes of jogging per day. In addition, specific exercises were examined, with high levels of bicycling or brisk walking — more than 270 minutes per week — linked with a greater risk of severe pre-eclampsia.

In the study, published online this month in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, researchers wrote, \"We were not able to confirm that increasing leisure time physical activity in early pregnancy protects against pre-eclampsia. In fact, our data even suggest that leisure time physical activity exceeding 270 minutes/week in first trimester may increase the risk of severe pre-eclampsia.\"