Doctors key in helping women maintain exercise during pregnancy, School of Medicine-Wichita study shows

A simple follow-up from an obstetrician could be an easy and effective way to encourage pregnant women to keep to an exercise routine during pregnancy, according to a recent study from the School of Medicine–Wichita.

Of the more than 140 women surveyed, nearly 14 percent said doctors and nurses can help them stay with an exercise program by simply asking about it at each visit. Twelve percent of women said encouragement would help, and 9.6 percent said they would like a specific exercise plan from their doctors.

Women reported a decrease in exercise as their pregnancies progressed, citing physical discomfort, fatigue, or vacation.

The maternal and fetal benefits of exercise during pregnancy have been well documented but few studies have addressed the adherence to exercise guidelines or why women are not able to meet minimum exercise recommendations. The purpose of the study was to learn about pregnant women’s exercise habits, motivations and barriers in order to better counsel women during prenatal and postpartum care.

“Women were asked what health care providers could do to help them stay active during pregnancy. The most common response was to simply ask them about their exercise each visit,” said Pamela J. Rizza, a fourth-year medical student at the School of Medicine-Wichita at the time of the study and one of its authors. “This would serve as a reminder as well as a motivator to the patient and send the message that health care providers believe exercise during pregnancy is important to maximize positive maternal-fetal outcomes.”

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