ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
High Birth Weight Doubles Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
Scientists ID New Genes Tied to Crohn's Disease
CANCER
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
CAREGIVING
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
Simpler Sleep Apnea Treatment Seems Effective, Affordable
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
DIET, NUTRITION
Coffee Drinking Lowers Women's Stroke Risk
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Eating in America Still Unhealthy
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Are Medical Meetings Environmentally Unfriendly?
Bed Bugs Bring No Disease Danger
EPA Alerts Seniors to Carbon Monoxide Dangers
EYE CARE, VISION
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
FITNESS
Super Bowl Loss Can 'Kill' Some Fans
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Any Exercise Good After a Heart Attack
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Showerheads Harbor a Bounty of Germs
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Combo Treatment Eases Wheezing in Babies
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
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Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise

SUNDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- It's natural that a woman might be skeptical about exercising while she's pregnant. So many changes are occurring in her body, it makes sense to have second thoughts about whether exercise might harm her or her unborn child.

But it turns out that a thoughtful exercise program is good for both mother and child, according to medical experts.

"We know that women who exercise during pregnancy have less chance of developing certain conditions like gestational diabetes," said Dr. Raul Artal, chairman of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health for the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "Not only that, exercise maintains musculoskeletal fitness. Women can cope with the anatomical and physiological changes of pregnancy better when they're in good shape. They also tolerate labor better and recover more quickly from delivery."

The baby also benefits. One study found that when an expectant mother works out, her fetus reaps cardiac benefits in the form of lower fetal heart rates.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day most days of the week. First, though, all women should consult a doctor to make sure it's OK.

When choosing what sort of exercise to pursue, a woman should take into account the shape she was in before becoming pregnant, said Dr. Thomas Wang, a family practitioner for Kaiser Permanente in San Diego.

"A lot of things depend on the level of fitness they had before," Wang said. A mom-to-be should pursue activities that will provide a good level of exertion without testing the limits of her body's current conditioning. If she's just starting a fitness program to improve her health during pregnancy, she should start out slowly and be careful not to overexert herself.

But there are certain activities that should at least be undertaken with caution, if not avoided altogether. Pregnant women, for instance, should not go scuba diving, as that activity exposes the fetus to a risk of developing decompression sickness, also known as the bends.

Women also should think twice before engaging in activities where the risk of falling is higher, such as gymnastics, horseback riding, downhill skiing and high-intensity racquet sports. And they should avoid contact sports such as ice hockey, soccer and basketball.

"Anything that involves impact or the chance of abdominal trauma, they should try to avoid," Wang explained.

Exercise that's perfectly safe for expectant mothers includes Kegel exercises, swimming, walking, light dancing and yoga. Riding a stationary bicycle or working out on aerobic gym equipment -- elliptical or stair-climbing machines, for instance -- is also fairly safe, as long as care is taken to prevent a fall.

Most pregnant women also can take part in jogging, running and aerobics, especially if those were exercises they regularly performed before pregnancy.

Pregnant women who are doing weight training should emphasize improving their muscle tone, particularly in the upper body and abdominal area, according to the American Pregnancy Association. They should avoid lifting weights above their heads and performing exercises that strain the lower back muscles.

"There have been some studies that show heavy lifting causes a temporary drop in the baby's heart rate," Wang said. "It usually corrects pretty quickly, but they might want to be careful."

Other things to keep in mind if exercising while pregnant:

* Avoid exercising to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness, as that could affect the oxygen supply to the fetus.
* Avoid overheating, which can affect the baby's development. Don't exercise in hot weather.
* During the second and third trimesters, avoid exercise that involves lying flat on your back as this decreases blood flow to the womb.

Though that might seem like a lot of cautions for something that's supposed to be safe, doctors insist that women can and should engage in a well-thought-out fitness program during their pregnancy.

"By and large, if there are no medical complications of pregnancy, women can continue engaging in the same type of activities," Artal said. "Women should be encouraged to continue living an active lifestyle."