Could gym workouts be a good fit to tackle pre-eclampsia?

Pilates and weightlifting’s potential to tackle pre-eclampsia is the focus of a groundbreaking Australian Catholic University study into vigorous exercise in pregnancy.

The new study from researchers at ACU’s School of Behavioural and Health Sciences will investigate how resistance training and other activities impact vascular function during each trimester.

Its findings could expose as a myth the notion that breaking into a sweat poses a risk to expectant mums and babies in the later stages of pregnancy.

“Fitspo mums pushing their bodies right up to delivery can create quite a stir but our own published research has shown appropriate vigorous physical activity is perfectly safe for mum and bub,” PhD candidate Courtney Giles said.

“We aim to take that a step further to look at the effects of exercise on both healthy and clinical populations. Women experience massive physical changes during pregnancy and we’re looking to see if a workout may be beneficial in preventing the onset of pre-eclampsia.”

Ms Giles is recruiting participants for the study. Study participants, including those who are overweight or who cope with chronic hypertension, gestational hypertension or gestational diabetes will complete treadmill, Pilates and resistance training workouts.

Clinical exercise physiologists will record their blood pressure, arterial stiffness and foetal heartrate to test the hypothesis that high intensity exercise could be as beneficial in pregnancy as it is in other populations.

“There are numerous benefits to continuing exercise in pregnancy but we’d like to know more about how much and how intense so we can give the right advice,” Ms Giles said.

ACU is seeking participants for the study. For more information, visit


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