Exercise during pregnancy reduces the rate of cesarean and instrumental deliveries: results of a randomized controlled trial

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2012 Nov;25(11):2372-6. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2012.696165. Epub 2012 Jun 22.


Objective: In this study, the authors assessed the effects of a structured, moderate-intensity exercise program during the entire length of pregnancy on a woman's method of delivery.

Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 290 healthy pregnant Caucasian (Spanish) women with a singleton gestation who were randomly assigned to either an exercise (n = 138) or a control (n = 152) group. Pregnancy outcomes, including the type of delivery, were measured at the end of the pregnancy.

Results: The percentage of cesarean and instrumental deliveries in the exercise group were lower than in the control group (15.9%, n = 22; 11.6%, n = 16 vs. 23%, n = 35; 19.1%, n = 29, respectively; p = 0.03). The overall health status of the newborn as well as other pregnancy outcomes was unaffected.

Conclusions: Based on these results, a supervised program of moderate-intensity exercise performed throughout pregnancy was associated with a reduction in the rate of cesarean, instrumental deliveries and can be recommended for healthy women in pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / instrumentation
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy / adverse effects
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Surgical Instruments / statistics & numerical data*