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Stretching reduces pre-eclampsia risk

A new study has found the risk of pre-eclampsia in some pregnant women could be reduced more by stretching than by walking
The risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnant women could be reduced more by stretching than by walking, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing found stretching to be beneficial for pregnant women who have already experienced pre-eclampsia and who do not already follow a workout routine.

Pre-eclampsia causes high blood pressure and is a condition that affects up to eight per cent of pregnancies every year. It is diagnosed when blood pressure readings taken twice in six hours read 140/90 or higher.

In the new study 79 women with a previous pre-eclampsia diagnosis and a sedentary lifestyle were randomly assigned to either a walking group (41 women) or a stretching group (38 women) during the 18th week of pregnancy.

The walking group was asked to exercise for 40 minutes five times a week at moderate intensity and the stretchers were also asked to perform slow, non-aerobic muscle movements with a 40-minute video fives times a week.

At the end of the pregnancy almost 15 per cent of women in the walking group had developed pre-eclampsia. However, less than five per cent of the stretching group developed the condition.

The researchers believed that stretching provided the better protection against pre-eclampsia because stretchers produced more transferrin - a plasma protein that transports iron through the blood and protects against oxidative stress on the body.

SeonAe Yeo, an associate professor at the UNC School of Nursing said: "Clearly, walking does not have a harmful effect during pregnancy. But for women who are at high risk for pre-eclampsia, our results may suggest that stretching exercises may have a protective effect against the condition."

The full results of the study will be published in the spring issue of the Journal Hypertension in Pregnancy.

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