INDIANAPOLIS – Research conducted by the President of the American College of Sports Medicine and colleagues shows many doctors aren’t sure what to tell their pregnant patients about exercise.
ACSM President James Pivarnik, Ph.D., FACSM, and colleagues Patricia Bauer, Ph.D., and Cliff Broman, Ph.D., surveyed 93 M.D.s, D.O.s (doctors of osteopathy) and Certified Nurse Midwives about their knowledge of exercise recommendations for pregnant women. Although nearly all respondents – 99 percent – believed exercise was good for their expecting patients, 60 percent of M.D.s and 86 percent of D.O.s weren’t familiar with pregnancy exercise guidelines. The results of the survey were published in the Journal of Women’s Health.
“Study after study has shown exercise to be beneficial for both mother and baby, but some doctors seem reluctant to trust that body of evidence,” said Pivarnik, author of a 2006 ACSM Roundtable Consensus Statement on the Impact of Physical Activity during Pregnancy and Postpartum on Chronic Disease Risk. The Roundtable Statement discussed how exercise during pregnancy decreased mothers’ risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, low back pain and more.
This decreased risk of chronic diseases and conditions is consistent with the Exercise is MedicineTM program, which promotes exercise as a standard part of health care for all people.
Despite updated comprehensive pregnancy guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Pivarnik and colleagues study showed antiquated beliefs among some doctors. Many still believed pregnant women shouldn’t push their heart rates beyond 140 beats per minute – a guideline that hasn’t been used since 1985.
Pivarnik recommends all health care providers familiarize themselves with current pregnancy exercise guidelines, which are included in the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Overall recommendations can be tailored to the specific patient’s needs. He also encourages health care providers to include more information about physical activity and its benefits in maternity education materials given to patients.
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.