PORTSMOUTH, VA -- When performed properly, aerobics, resistance training and swimming may be beneficial for pregnant women, according to a recently released study by researchers at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP), VA.

"In the past, physical activity was looked at to be potentially harmful to the developing baby, and there's just been hesitancy to adopt the new recommendation. Through our study, we hope to show that exercise is safe for pregnant women," said Capt. Everett Magann, chairman of the medical center's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and professor for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS).

The study was published in the August 2009 Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and is the culmination of nearly 10 years of global research by Magann and Capt. Marlene DeMaio, co-author of the study and director of research, NMCP's Department of Orthopedic Surgery, and associate professor, USUHS Department of Surgery.

The health benefits of exercise for pregnant women included improved aerobic capacity and blood pressure, improved response to carbohydrates and decreased blood glucose, study authors found.

In addition, the study found that pregnant women’s self-esteem improved, as did the physical discomforts of pregnancy.

DeMaio said information published by other international scientists supports their study, such as research by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, as well as their counterparts in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

"There are documentations, studies and consensus recommendations by every English-speaking governing board in the world that say exercise in low-risk pregnant woman is not only safe, but recommended," DeMaio said.

DeMaio added that there are plans to continue the research with a focus on military members.

"There is great potential for military relevant research," DeMaio said. "These findings will be important for the military at large, as well as the civilian world."