Objective: To determine whether physical activity and blood pressure (BP) response to exercise in early pregnancy are related to resting BP at the end of pregnancy. Understanding physiological BP responses to exercise during pregnancy will help in improving BP profile and guiding exercise recommendations in pregnant women.
Methods: Maternal physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2peak) and BP (systolic and diastolic) at rest and during exercise (submaximal and relative response) were assessed at 16 weeks of gestation in 61 normotensive pregnant women. BP at 36 weeks of gestation and obstetrical outcomes were collected from maternal charts.
Results: Related to resting DBP at 16 weeks (r = −0.28, P = 0.028), total energy expenditure spend at any physical activity in early pregnancy was also associated with resting SBP at 36 weeks (r = −0.27, P = 0.038). On the contrary, although related to VO2peak (r = −0.57, P < 0.0001) and energy expenditure spent at sports and exercise (r = −0.29, P = 0.024), the relative SBP response to exercise at 16 weeks was not associated with resting BP at 36 weeks. Strongly associated with resting BP at 16 weeks and also with total energy expenditure, submaximal BP response to exercise at 16 weeks was related to resting SBP and DBP at 36 weeks (r = 0.41, P = 0.001 and r = 0.26, P = 0.051, respectively).
Conclusion: In normotensive women, physical activity performed in early pregnancy appears to slightly modulate resting BP in early and late pregnancy. However, further investigations are needed to determine which physical activity-related parameter in response to exercise best predicts BP variations during pregnancy.