Stretching May Prevent Preeclampsia

A stretch offers more than flexibility.


Vigorous exercise can lower a woman’s risk of developing pregnancy-induced hypertension, or preeclampsia, a complication that affects up to 8 percent of pregnancies. But a new study suggests an even simpler tactic: stretching.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assigned 79 pregnant women with a previous preeclampsia diagnosis and a sedentary lifestyle to either a walking or a stretching regimen. Almost 15 percent of the walkers developed preeclampsia compared with less than 3 percent of the stretchers. It’s not that walking doesn’t help, the researchers say. But stretching may be especially good because it releases more of a special kind of protein called transferrin, which protects against stress on the body.