01:23am Monday 26 August 2019

Pregnant women seem to be shirking exercise at a time when it’s vital for health

CQUniversity Phd candidate Mel Hayman

That’s according to CQUniversity PhD researcher Mel Hayman who recently studied pregnant women and their self-reported exercise behaviours, including exercise frequency, intensity, time and type, before and during pregnancy.

You can listen to Dr Hayman on ABC Radio via  http://ab.co/1FNnHzS 

“The results show that exercise during pregnancy significantly decreases to concerning low levels. In turn, expecting mothers are missing out on a number of associated health benefits, both for themselves and their unborn child,” Ms Hayman says.

“Participation in regular exercise during pregnancy is a recommended prenatal care strategy with short and long-term health benefits to both mother and child.

“Sedentary behaviour and overweight development among pregnant women boosts both their chances and their unborn child’s chances of suffering chronic diseases and having a shorter life-span.

“Of the 142 Rockhampton-based women who participated in the study, only 8% were sufficiently active in accordance with exercise during pregnancy guidelines that recommend all healthy pregnant women work towards accumulating 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week.


“Pregnancy is a time of great physiological and psychological change and there are many determinants that hinder pregnant women for being sufficiently active, such as morning sickness, tiredness and fatigue and physical discomfort. However, it is important that pregnant women look to be as active as their body will permit. It is all about working towards an accumulation of at least 150 minutes per week.”

Ms Hayman said the Fit4Two Program was developed to help pregnant women become more active. It can be accessed via fit4two@cqu.edu.au or www.fit4two.org.au  .

“The Fit4Two program is an online web-based program that offers weekly tailored and individualised physical activity feedback as well as teaching women about what exercise to do and how to do it,” Ms Hayman says.

“Fit4Two also helps women to develop action plans, set goals, develop social support networks and overcome barriers to exercise.”

The program will only run for another 12 weeks as it was developed and implemented as a part of Ms Hayman’s PhD research that is set to conclude at the end of June.

Pregnant women ranging from 10-21 weeks’ gestation are encouraged to log onto the Fit4Two homepage www.fit4two.org.au and participate. This program was also the successful recipient of the recent Central Queensland Medicare Local Healthy CQ Grants.

Last year, Ms Hayman was invited by Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) to author a Fact Sheet on pre and post-natal exercise that has contributed to SMA’s ‘Women in Sport’ series. She is currently working with a leading international physical activity researcher to finalise the SMA National Exercise during Pregnancy Statement. Ms Hayman has also recently been invited by the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RANZCOG) to submit a set of guidelines to be adopted for use by RANZCOG.

“Fit4Two is an amazingly convenient, free and easy to use resource for Rockhampton-based women, and it is the first of its kind in the world, so it’s important that pregnant women take advantage of it,” Ms Hayman says.

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