The changing thermal response to endurance exercise during pregnancy

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1991 Dec;165(6 Pt 1):1684-9. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(91)90015-j.


This study was designed to test the hypothesis that the thermal response to endurance exercise is altered by the thermal adaptations to pregnancy. Accordingly, rectal temperature was monitored in 18 recreational athletes before, during, and after 20 minutes of continuous exercise before conception and every 6 to 8 weeks during pregnancy. Mean exercise intensity was 64% of VO2 max before conception and did not change during pregnancy. However, the peak rectal temperature reached during exercise decreased by 0.3 degrees C at 8 weeks and then fell at a rate of 0.1 degrees C per lunar month through the thirty-seventh week. This appeared to be related to changes in resting temperature, thermal mass, sweating threshold, and venous capacitance that began early in pregnancy. These data suggest that the magnitude of any exercise-associated thermal stress for the embryo and fetus is markedly reduced by the maternal physiologic adaptations to pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Body Weight
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy / physiology*