HEALTHY PREGNANCY: Preventing Excess Weight Gain

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Many women may be tempted to put up their feet and relax while pregnant. But, researchers at Iowa State University are discovering how much women should expect to move while expecting.

Life is a little crazy for new mom Amber Graeber. She says, "There is a lack of sleep for sure. But, other than that, it's been really fun."

Fun because the busy mom of two says things were a little easier this second time around. Graeber says, "This time my exercise level was much higher and much more consistent. So, instead of occasionally trying to make it to the gym, I very consistently walked 30 minutes almost every day, every week of the pregnancy since I was about 13 weeks pregnant."

Graeber enrolled in The Blossom Project at Iowa State, shortly after becoming pregnant. Christina Campbell says, "The mission of The Blossom Project is to improve the lives of women and children one pregnancy at a time."

Campbell led a group of ISU researchers the last 3 years, collecting data on 300 women in a variety of studies. Graeber participated in the exercise science and nutrition study. She tracked her food three times during each trimester and logged her exercise every day. She says, "There was accountability because there was a website we would log onto and each time it would say, did you exercise today? And, so you would feel really guilty pushing no."

Spending 30 minutes on the treadmill is a great way to be active, but researchers found pregnant women should really do more than that throughout the day. Campbell says, "You want to be as active as possible."

Current guidelines say pregnant women should get about 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. But, one of The Blossom Project's studies found pregnant women really need to find activities that add extra movement throughout the day to limit excess weight gain. Campbell says, "You have to make an extra effort to walk farther, to make trips to put the laundry away to maybe not use the remote on the T.V., and standup to change the channel, if you happen to be using the T.V."

Graeber is glad she stayed active while carrying Beckett James. She says, "I think that my consistent exercise enabled me to lose the weight rather quickly, and so I'm already back to the weight I was before I got pregnant."

Researchers with The Blossom Project will enroll pregnant women for more studies this spring. The next big thing they'll look into is if you can just monitor your diet, just monitor exercise, or do you have to do both to prevent excess weight gain. E-mail, if you'd like more information about signing up for a future study.



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