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J Dev Physiol. 1989 Feb;11(2):111-5.

Effects of strenuous maternal exercise on fetal organ weights and skeletal muscle development in rats.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Physical Education, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


The purpose of the present study was to observe the effects of strenuous maternal aerobic exercise throughout gestation on fetal outcome in the rat. The strenuous exercise intensity consisted of a treadmill speed of 30 m.min-1 on a 10 degrees incline, for 120, 5 days.week-1. The rats were conditioned to run on a motor-driven treadmill by following a progressive two-week exercise program, so that by the end of the two weeks the rats were capable of running comfortably at this strenuous intensity in the non-pregnant state. Following the two-week running programme, the rats were paired by weight and randomly assigned to either a pregnant group that continued the running program throughout gestation (pregnant runner), or a pregnant group that did not continue the running program throughout pregnancy (pregnant control). At birth the neonates born to the pregnant running group did not differ in average neonatal body weight values, number per litter or total litter weight values when compared to controls, nor were superficial gross abnormalities observed in neonates born to the pregnant control or pregnant running groups. The strenuous maternal exercise intensity did not alter neonatal organ weight values (brain, heart, liver, lung, kidney), nor neonatal skeletal muscle (gastrocnemius, sternomastoid, diaphragm) when compared to control values. It is suggested that maternal exercise of this intensity throughout gestation does not affect fetal outcome in the rat, and may be due to the animals accustomization to the strenuous exercise protocol prior to pregnancy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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