n International SportMed Journal - The importance of foetal heart rate response to maternal exercise : review article

Volume 4, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 1528-3356



The aim of this review is to outline documented foetal responses to graded maternal exercise. These responses included changes in baseline heart rate and its variability or occurrence of bradycardia. These were reviewed with respect to causes for their occurrence and subsequent consequences. The suggestion that a 'symptom-limited- exercise test could serve as a stress test to highlight 'at-risk' foetuses was also reviewed. A literature search was performed using MEDLINE (1983-2003), Google and PubMed. Studies that directly assessed the foetal haemodynamic response to exercise were reviewed, including foetal heart rate response and changes in umbilical and uterine artery blood flow. Reference was made to human and animal studies. The findings suggest that a single bout of 'symptom limited' exercise does not adversely affect the foetal heart rate in uncomplicated pregnancies with appropriately grown foetuses. Isolated bradycardias have been reported, but these occur in cases of strenuous exertion with peripheral venous pooling of blood. This may reflect an intrinsic foetal response to maintain perfusion and oxygenation when uterine blood flow is transiently reduced. Nonetheless, there is no evidence in the literature that those cases of exercise-induced changes in variability or bradycardias are associated with adverse perinatal outcome.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error