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Breastfeeding mums need aerobic exercise

New moms breastfeeding their babies may require more aerobic and resistance exercise to offset temporary bone loss caused by calcium depletion, says a recent study.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 02, 2009 15:50 IST

New moms breastfeeding their babies may require more aerobic and resistance exercise to offset temporary bone loss caused by calcium depletion, says a recent Aerobicsstudy.

Cheryl Lovelady and her team from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) measured bone mineral density in 20 women four to 20 weeks post pregnancy. They found that those who didn't exercise lost around seven percent of their lower-spine bone density in that period.

"During lactation, women transfer around 200 milligrams of calcium per day from their own stores to their breast milk," Lovelady said. "Calcium is critically linked to bone density and health, and this depletion can result in loss of bone mineral density. When mothers wean their infants, bone mineral density usually returns to normal levels," she added.

"We proposed that weight-bearing exercise would minimise bone losses during lactation and decrease the risk of osteoporosis later in life," Lovelady said.

Exercise - especially strength training - can slow bone loss during lactation, the study found. Besides, regular weight-bearing exercise has an added benefit for moms trying to shed post-pregnancy weight: It significantly improved their body composition compared to the non-exercisers, lowering their body fat percentage and increasing lean mass, even without dietary intervention.