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More Sports for Pregnant Women

More Sports for Pregnant Women

 

A study of the Saint Louis University School of Public Health concludes that obstetricians and gynaecologists need to encourage pregnant women to exercise.

"The message is not getting out that women should continue to exercise during pregnancy, at least at moderate intensity," said Terry Leet, Ph.D., a study author and associate professor of community health. "Only one of every six pregnant women are meeting the current physical activity recommendation of 30 or more minutes of moderate physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week." The hesitance of obstetricians to recommend exercise is rooted in old-fashioned notions of pregnancy as a time of confinement.

The researchers found that pregnant women were not as physically active as women who were not pregnant. They analyzed data from more than 150,000 pregnant and non-pregnant women who were interviewed by phone in 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000. Only 16 percent of pregnant women and 27 percent of non-pregnant women were meeting the current physical activity recommendation in 2000. In this year the percentage of pregnant women who said they exercised at a moderate or vigorous level was lower than in any of the previous years.

Brisk walking for 30 or more minutes at least five days a week is considered moderate exercise and meets the current physical activity recommendation for pregnant and non-pregnant women. Leet and his colleagues found that pregnant women who were older, non-white, unmarried, current smokers, had low incomes or less than 12 years of education were less likely to exercise than others.

The study has vital public health implications that can assist physicians to identify patients who are at high risk for inactivity during pregnancy. "These women should be encouraged to begin moderate activities most, if not all days of the week, as long as medical or obstetric complications do not exist," Leet said. The study found that walking was the most common form of physical activity among all women surveyed. Other common physical activities were swimming and dance aerobics.

- For information on Saint Louis University School of Public Health: www.slu.edu

 
 
 

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