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What pregnant women should know about exercise

Most expecting mothers in today's time are overwhelmed with the amount of information floating around and telling them to do one thing or another in order to have the most successful pregnancy possible. One source that pregnant women would assume are always accurate and up-to-date in their information would be the medical world, since they are, after all, the ones with the ultimate say who prescribe certain courses of action. But The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conducted a survey on 93 MDs, DOs and nurse midwives to get an idea of their knowledge and recommendations for exercise and pregnancy, and the results were somewhat alarming. Results of the survey showed that all health-care professionals who responded to the survey thought that exercise was good medicine for expecting mothers, however, 60% of the physicians and 86% of the doctors of osteopathy were not familiar with the current pregnancy exercise guidelines. Based off these findings, which show that some practitioners have outdated ideas when it comes to pregnancy and exercise, the ACSM felt it was necessary to remind all health-care professionals to familiarize themselves with the current exercise guidelines.

Recommendations for pregnant and postpartum women

The following guidelines are included in the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and should be consulted as a desk-side reference for physicians, or directly by patients who can access them here:

  • Healthy women who are not already performing vigorous-intensity physical activity should perform at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises per week
  • Performance of this activity should be spread throughout the week
  • Women who regularly engage in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or high amounts of activity may continue their activity provided that their condition remains unchanged and that they talk to their health-care professional about their activity level throughout their pregnancy

The ACSM also points out that specific exercise programs should be designed according to each patient's needs by the medical professional doing the prescribing. On the whole, pregnant women need to understand the benefits of keeping active and staying in shape during pregnancy, and health-care professionals are encouraged to include more information on maternity education to guide them along in this process.

-As reported in an April 7, '10 article in Musculoskeletal Network

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