Research Alert

Prenatal exercise is associated with a 40% reduction of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy, yet the underlying reasons for this are not known. Investigators performed a randomized controlled trial to determine the effects of an aerobic exercise training program between 20-34 weeks gestation on the sympathetic nervous system (the body’s fight or flight system) control of blood pressure. They found that walking for 40 minutes three to four times per week resulted in a lesser increase in muscle sympathetic nerve activity with gestation. This may explain one mechanism behind which aerobic exercise reduces the odds of developing gestational hypertension and preeclampsia.