From time immemorial, there have been various socio-cultural reasons to that encouraged reduction of exercise for pregnant women. Such cultural reasons sought to reduce physical activity and working by pregnant women so that to provide them for enough time for relaxation and rest. There were beliefs that such involvement of women in exercises and work could result into early pregnancy loss or reduced placental circulation. Women were thus advised to reduce their involvement in activities such as jogging or cycling in order to limit their heart rate. However, much change has been witnessed both in the attitude and guidelines on exercise during pregnancy. While the knowledge on exercise physiology is still incomplete, a lot of research has been done on the benefits and risks of exercising during pregnancy. As a result, this has come with much specific guidelines on which its success lies. Currently, most authors have thus agreed that the need for exercise by pregnant women can never be neglected.
According to Barakat (2008), there is a controversy that exists over the association between the physical exercise and safety in pregnancy. This study was aimed at determining the possible cause-effect relationship between regular exercise during the second and third trimester of pregnancy by previously sedentary, healthy gestation age at the moment of delivery. In their methodology, they used the Caucasian women with singleton gestation for both the research and control experiment. In the experiment, it was found out that there were no significant differences between the two categories to have a potential influence on the gestation period. Women were separated using such factors such as age, and number of hours they could stand. They concluded that, previously sedentary healthy women who had single gestation could safely engage in moderate, supervised exercise programs until the end of gestation because it has no effect on the gestation age.
Hatch (1993), discusses both the benefits and risks of training during pregnancy both to the mother and to the future of the new born. In this study which was carried out in over 800 parental patients who were recruited from Gynecologist and obstetric practices, a lot of observations were made. Within this study, Hatch (1993), identified several advantages of exercise during pregnancy. These include fastening of the process of recovery after delivery, increase in the sense of well being and self esteem both during and after pregnancy, and also increases the size of the placenta which results into an increase in the nutrient base for the baby. This study recommended that simple activities such as walking at normal pace or more vigorous exercise activity can increase fetal growth.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists the pregnant women should exercise routinely. Then Owe (2008), noted that walking, or other activities such as swimming, cycling, and aerobics coupled with other exercises are necessary during pregnancy. The participants of this study were Norwegian mother and child cohort study and the main variable was regular exercise during pregnancy. As the result of this study, walking was one of the most normal and safest forms of exercise, and will help the mother not to lose her body balance.
Barakat (2009) wrote about resistance exercise training during pregnancy and newborn's birth size. The researcher stressed that lighter resistance training over the second and third trimester of pregnancy does not have a negative impact on the newborn's body size. The participants for this study were 480 Spanish pregnant women who were assigned to focus on light strength training from the second trimester until the end of it. They also gave contribution on how to make exercise safe and effective for the mother. According to their observations and results, light resistance exercise training does not affect the newborn's birth size.
Directions for future research:
Barakat and her colleagues (2008), revealed the controversy that has arisen on the amount of physical exercise that is necessary during the second trimester of the pregnancy. Some scholars are opposed to activities that require prolonged standing and carrying of heavy loads. They say that such activities might result in to preterm delivery or low birth weight. They in turn propose more sedentary activities like office staff. Most scholars are still of the opinion that the physical activity during pregnancy is beneficial to both the mother and the fetus in order to prevent maternal disorders such as hypertension. They however note that the effect of physical exercise during the entire period of pregnancy and its outcome is a long and complicated issue which still requires more research. Lucia remarked that studies on large population samples have failed to show any link between physical activity during pregnancy and the pregnancy outcome.
This was especially after her study of the possibility of a linkage between gestation ages, risk of preterm delivery, intrauterine growth. Another issue for more research is whether there should really be standard recommended exercise duration during pregnancy. Some scholars have argued that the duration of the exercise session should be determined by the daily feeling by each mother. The proponents of this argument have noted that during the first trimester fatigue is very common with the beginning of the formation of the baby's form. They recommended a reduction in exercise activities at this stage of pregnancy among the mothers. With the energy levels said to be different with each trimester, more research needs to be done on the recommended level of exercise at each stage.
Practical implications of the research:
Practically, every mother has a role to understand the need to exercise in order to maintain both her health and fitness. The mother's actions during pregnancy can therefore result into much benefits or bring her complications. This will therefore greatly depend on the mothers choice of either exercising or not exercising. The first issue that calls for action is that of weight before, during and after pregnancy. Excess weight gain and failure to lose it six months postpartum are indicators of long term obesity. This may result from lack of enough exercise during the pregnancy period. Another area of the practical implication of this research is in the nutrition requirements. Doctors should provide a good nutritional diet to pregnant women to maintain their weight during pregnancy. Also Kinesiologist can provide better exercise routine to keep the pregnant women more motivated. Women should therefore be very keen to follow the laid down recommended exercises which are meant to benefit them before and after birth.
From this study, excise is widely recommended amongst pregnant women by the doctors and the scholars. There are many benefits which come with excise during pregnancy. Even previously inactive women can safely engage in exercise program after being cleared by a doctor. However, the women must learn to follow the recommended guidelines to ensure the effectiveness of the exercise in maintaining health and fitness while minimizing exercise risks.
The level of exercise requirement differs with each trimester of pregnancy. The first stage when the child acquires the form is accompanied by fatigue and requires that one reduce the level of involvement in exercising. This differs with other trimesters. The success of exercise therefore depends on the knowledge level of the mother and thus need for doctor consultation. Pregnant women should therefore follow the proper recommended exercises according to their levels of pregnancy. They should also do wide consultation with the doctors on the suitable exercises that are suitable for them.