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Aquatic-Aerobic Exercise as a Means of Stress Reduction during Pregnancy

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The goals of this research were to explore the current literature regarding associations between psychological stress and adverse fetal outcome, associations between aerobic exercise and psychological stress reduction, and associations between aerobic exercise and fetal outcome. The published studies that were located provide evidence of the following: 1) Stress reactivity increases physiologically during pregnancy, 2) pregnant women may experience additional stressors that are usually not experienced in a nonpregnant state, 3) psychological stress in pregnancy is associated with adverse fetal outcome, 4) exercise can be a method of stress reduction, 5) exercise in pregnancy is not associated with adverse fetal outcome, and 6) exercise in pregnancy may provide benefit to the fetus. Data were analyzed from an original study and associations were reported between psychological stress-management activities and participation in aquatic aerobic exercise classes. No reports were available investigating an exercise-induced reduction in psychological stress with fetal outcome.

Keywords: exercise; pregnancy; stress

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: KARA PARKER practices full-time in Alexandria, Virginia, as a women's health nurse practitioner. 2: SHEILA SMITH is an assistant professor in the Department of Maternal-Child Nursing at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing in Richmond, Virginia. She also is a faculty member in the Lamaze Perinatal Educational Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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