Objectives: The purpose of this review was to examine the relationship between exercise dose and
reductions in weight gain during pregnancy in exercise interventions.
Design: Systematic literature review.
Methods: Four electronic research databases (PubMed, Web of Science, CINAHL, and Academic Search
Premiere) were used to identify exercise interventions conducted with pregnant women. Eligible articles
must have satisfied the following criteria: inclusion of a control condition, exercise as a major intervention
component, weight gain measured and reported for each experimental condition, description of exercise
dose (frequency, intensity and duration), and utilized an adequate number of control conditions to assess
independent effects of exercise on weight gain.
Results: The literature search identified 4837 articles. Of these, 174 abstracts were screened and 21 intervention
studies (18 exercise-only, 3 exercise/diet) were eligible for review. Only 38% of the interventions
achieved statistically significant reductions in gestational weight gain. Successful interventions possessed
higher adherence and lower attrition rates and were predominantly conducted among normal weight
populations. No clear patterns or consistencies of exercise dose and reductions in weight gain were
Conclusions: An exercise dose associated with reductions in weight gain was unquantifiable among these
interventions. Adherence and retention rates were strong contributors to the success of exercise interventions
on gestational weight gain. It is strongly suggested that future researchers investigate methods
to increase adherence and compliance, especially among overweight and obese women, and utilize objective
measurement tools to accurately evaluate exercise dose performed by the participants and the impact
on body composition and weight gain.