In their article, Tomić et al. evaluate the links between fetal growth and regular engagement in physical exercising among pregnant women. The authors indicate that abnormal growth of the fetus, both excess and restricted, may be defined by multiple factors including maternal socio-economic status, bad habits such as smoking and substance abuse, overall health condition, and lifestyle, and others (Tomić et al. 363). At the same time, they mention that the level of physical activity can have both positive and negative effects on pregnancy outcomes.
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Tomić et al. conducted a control trial study by using two sample groups comprised of healthy women, age 18-35 years. 166 women in the study group took part in the regular aerobic exercising of moderate and submaximal intensity during pregnancy, while 168 females in the control group did not. The study revealed that pregnant women who were engaged in regular physical activity throughout their pregnancy “showed lower occurrence of fetal macrosomia (>4000 g) and gestational diabetes” compared to the control group (Tomić et al. 365). Other studies reviewed by the researchers also demonstrated such positive effects of low to moderate exercising on maternal and fetal health as a decreased rate of preeclampsia, as well as pregnancy-induced hypertension (Tomić et al. 366). Tomić et al. suggest that the positive effects of physical activity on fetal development may be defined by the impact of exercising on glucose tolerance, which also determines the occurrence of gestational diabetes (366).
Overall, the findings of this research have significant implications as they may help intervene in abnormal fetal growth that remains a serious public health problem because it threatens the lives of mothers and newborns. Nevertheless, previous studies provided some controversial data on this account. Therefore, further investigation of links between the variables is required.
Physical activity is an important aspect of health at any stage of life. I am aware of some benefits that one can gain when exercising regularly. They include the prevention of obesity, reduced risk of hypertension, improved psychological health, and others. A more active person is more resistant to multiple diseases because exercising can harmonize body processes and increase the ability to cope with stress. Since the maintenance of good health is particularly essential during pregnancy, there is no surprise that engagement in physical activities may lead to favorable pregnancy outcomes by sustaining both maternal and fetal well-being.
Tomić et al. identify in their article that pregnancy is associated with the risk of gestational diabetes. As far as I know, it occurs mainly because the endocrine system of pregnant women produces some hormones, which cause the accumulation of glucose in the blood, and gestational diabetes develops in those women whose pancreas does not produce a sufficient amount of insulin to manage increased blood sugar levels. At the same time, physical activity increases insulin sensitivity. Moreover, when muscles contract during exercising, the cells start to absorb glucose and consequently use it to generate energy. This may be one of the major reasons why people often feel a significant boost in energy and an increase in endurance after the engagement in physical activity. Of course, it improves health at a more subtle level as well, namely, enhances hormonal balance. This is why exercising should be part of the strategy aimed to prevent significant pregnancy complications. However, it is possible to presume that intensive activity may not be associated with similarly positive outcomes as it conversely can increase stress. Every pregnant woman should thus try to maintain a level of activity that is right for her.
Tomić, Vlatka et al. “The Effect of Maternal Exercise during Pregnancy on Abnormal Fetal Growth.” Croatian Medical Journal, vol. 54, no. 4, 2013, pp. 362–368.