Maternal and fetal cardiovascular responses to acute high-intensity interval and moderate-intensity continuous training exercise during pregnancy: a randomized crossover trial

Review written by Dr Stacey Hardin info

Key Points

  1. Maternal participation in an acute bout of high-intensity interval training or moderate-intensity continuous training did not negatively impact fetal heart rate or umbilical blood flow.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Physical activity in pregnant individuals is recommended as a critical component of a healthy pregnancy. Extensive research has demonstrated the safety and benefits of moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) exercise.

Traditionally, pregnant individuals have been cautioned against engaging in high-intensity exercise because of uncertainty of effects causing concern for fetal well-being. Only 15% of pregnant individuals currently meet physical activity recommendations of 150 min of moderate-intensity physical activity per week (1) citing ‘time constraints’ as the second most common perceived barrier to physical activity (2). A possible strategy to counter a perceived lack of time is to participate in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise.

The objective of this study was to compare maternal and fetal cardiovascular responses to an acute bout of HIIT versus MICT during pregnancy.

Traditionally, pregnant individuals have been cautioned against engaging in high-intensity exercise because of uncertainty of effects causing concern for fetal well-being.
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Exercising via high-intensity interval training elicits similar maternal and fetal responses compared to the traditionally prescribed moderate-intensity continuous training.

METHODS

  • 15 women with a singleton pregnancy (27.3 ± 3.5 weeks of gestation, 33 ± 4 years of age) participated in this study.
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