Monday, November 2, 2009

Exercise and Breastfeeding

A new study from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro concludes that breastfeeding mothers who exercise lose less bone density and less lean body mass than non-exercising women. Although the study is small and the topic warrants further exploration, the results are promising. Bone loss is normal during pregnancy and lactation, as the baby depletes some of the mother's calcium stores for skeletal development. Bone density generally rebounds, at least partially, after a woman ceases breastfeeding. But concern over osteoporosis could lead some women to decide (or be convinced) to wean prematurely.

The UNC study demonstrates that moderate exercise, in addition to its many other benefits, can mitigate the effects of breastfeeding on a mother's bone density. It is important to note that the women in the study did not have a gym membership or attend group exercise classes- they performed a combination aerobic/strength-training routine 3 times a week in their own homes. In other words, the benefits of exercise are not out of reach to women unable to join a health club. For women who worry that exercise will affect their milk supply, there is no research that supports this myth. Furthermore, the additional caloric expenditure associated with both exercise and lactation (along with healthy eating habits) may help mothers shed their pregnancy pounds more easily.

1 comment:

  1. Exercise at all but the birthing stages of motherhood have clear benefits, as the UNC study shows. After that and the children begin standing, creating a Positive Fitness Attitude with shared family exercise can help bond and nurture the family's well being.