ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
CANCER
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Mineral May Reduce High-Risk Bladder Disease
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
CAREGIVING
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
UV Lights, Fans May Curb TB Spread in Hospitals
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Gas Cooking Might Up Your Cancer Risk
Fish in U.S. Rivers Tainted With Common Medications
Greenhouse Gases Hazardous to Your Health
EYE CARE, VISION
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
FITNESS
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Can a Bad Boss Make You Sick?
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
Optimism May Boost Immune System
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heal Your LifeŽ Tips for Living Well
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
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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."