Objectives: To assess whether a 12-week supervised exercise-programme with an additional 30 min of moderate self-imposed physical activity on the non-supervised weekdays prevents excessive weight gain in pregnancy, as well as postpartum weight retention.
Methods: One hundred and five sedentary, nulliparous pregnant women with a mean age of 30.7 ± 4.0 years and a pre-pregnancy body mass index of 23.8 ± 4.3 kg/m(2) were randomised to either an exercise group (EG, n = 52) or a control group (CG, n = 53). The exercise programme consisted of 60 min supervised aerobic dance and strength training for 60 min, at least twice per week for a minimum of 12 weeks.
Results: Drop-out rates were 19% and 21% in the EG and CG, respectively. Fewer women in the EG than in the CG exceeded the Institute of Medicine recommendations; however, only EG participants who attended 24 exercise sessions (n = 14) differed significantly from controls (p = 0.006) with regard to weight gain during pregnancy (11.0 ± 2.3 vs. 13.8 ± 3.8 kg, p < 0.01) and postpartum weight retention (0.8 ± 1.7 vs. 3.3 ± 4.1 kg, p < 0.01).
Conclusions: Regular participation in aerobic dance exercise can contribute to significantly reduce weight gain during pregnancy.