Purpose: The present study examined the effects of exercise on physical and psychological variables in sedentary primigravidae (PRA).
Methods: A total of nine women randomly assigned to an exercise (E) (mean age = 31.3 +/- 3.1 yr) and six subjects randomly assigned to a control (C) group (mean age = 27.8 +/- 3.1 yr) fulfilled all requirements for the study. Exercise included a variety of exercise activities performed to a target heart rate of 150-156 beats x min(-1), three times per week for 15 wk.
Results: Results showed no significant differences between E and C groups in physical characteristics initially. A repeated measures ANOVA showed a significant group effect (P < 0.05) and a significant group by time interaction (P = 0.001) with the E group showing a significantly longer amount of time on the PWC150 test than the C group. There was no significant group, time, or group by time interaction for lactate accumulation. This occurred, despite the fact that the E group spent 56% longer on the PWC150 test and the C group spent 30% less time on the same test at the conclusion of the study. Finally, the E group in comparison to the C group showed more favorable improvements in several items related to health and well-being on the Body Cathexis Scale. There were no significant differences between E and C groups in any pregnancy outcome measures. All babies were delivered healthy at term.
Conclusions: These data suggest that a vigorous exercise program can lead to significant improvements in aerobic fitness at similar lactate concentrations compared to a control group and can be well tolerated by low risk sedentary PRA without any deleterious effects occurring to herself or unborn child.