Health & Fitness

The docs: Moms-to-be: Dodge hypertension with exercise

Kerri Walsh Jennings was pregnant with her third child when she won her third gold medal in volleyball during the 2012 London Olympics. Her husband jokes that she gets a gold medal for every baby.

Moms-to-be everywhere should take a page out of Jennings' playbook. A new study done in Spain, led by Western University in London, Ontario, reveals that exercising when pregnant (and you don't need to train like an Olympic athlete) is effective for fighting off high blood pressure. HBP affects up to 10 percent of all pregnant women and triggers pre-eclampsia and eclampsia that are a threat to mother and fetus. HBP is also associated with long-term maternal risk of heart disease.

The women in the study did 50 to 55 minutes of aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises three times a week beginning week 9 to week 11 through week 38 to week 39. And the workouts did more than battle hypertension: The study showed that pregnant women who didn't exercise were one and a half times more likely to gain excess weight and two and a half times more likely to deliver a baby that was oversize.

So, if you're pregnant or planning on it, get an exercise OK from your doc. Check your area for shared medical appointments for pregnant women that teach stress management, nutrition and cooking, and appropriate physical activity to help you avoid long-term health risks to yourself and your children.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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