Physical and psychological changes with vigorous exercise in sedentary primigravidae

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000 Jan;32(1):58-62. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200001000-00010.


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.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Image
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Gravidity / physiology*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Pregnancy / psychology
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Time Factors


  • Lactic Acid