The effect of pregnancy on peak O2 uptake (VO2 peak) during tethered swimming was evaluated in 10 women during their 25th and 35th wk of pregnancy, as well as 9–11 wk postpartum. The swim results were compared with cycle ergometry results obtained at similar times. The results indicated that exercise-induced maximal heart rates remained the same and were similar for the swim and cycle trials, approximately 184 +/- 4 beats/min. Cycling VO2 peak was not affected by pregnancy, averaging 1.94 +/- 0.11 l/min. Postpartum swim VO2 peak was similar to the cycle results; however, during pregnancy it was significantly lower than cycling VO2 peak (P less than 0.05; postpartum, 1.78 +/- 0.14 l/min; 25th wk, 1.64 +/- 0.12; 35th wk, 1.48 +/- 0.11). Hemoglobin concentrations and hematocrits were lower during pregnancy; however, changes in plasma volume (based on hematocrit and hemoglobin) were found to be significantly greater during cycling than during swimming and also greater during pregnancy for both modes of exercise. It was concluded that, unlike cycling, the VO2 peak of pregnant women during swimming is reduced. This reduction in VO2 peak was associated with a decreased peak ventilation (r = 0.864) but was not correlated to exercise-induced hemoconcentration (r = -0.29). Furthermore, pregnancy results in a greater-than-normal exercise-induced hemoconcentration, which may be related to pregnancy-induced changes in capillary dynamics.
- Copyright © 1991 the American Physiological Society