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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Exercise during pregnancy: Clear issues and new challenges

Holly C. Nevarez, MPH, PhD, CHES, Health and Community Services, California State University, Chico, Butte Hall 607, Chico, CA 95929, 530-343-2576, hollynevarez@sbcglobal.net

Exercise during pregnancy yields many important health benefits. ACOG has published guidelines for exercise during pregnancy. Irregardless of these guidelines and documented benefits, pregnant women are not exercising. Among the general population, 40% of women exercise at recommended levels. Among pregnant women the prevalence of exercise decreases and has been reported as low as 5%. As low as this rate seems, this prevalence was among women who were primarily White, with college educations and from higher household incomes. These characteristics of race, education, and income have been consistently reported within the general population to be associated with exercise. Characteristics of people identified as having lower prevalence of exercise include women with low education levels, low household incomes, or who are from minority groups. Exercise rates among pregnant women with these characteristics have not been thoroughly explored. Several possible reasons as to why the differences in overweight, obesity and physical inactivity exist. Racial differences in diet, types of employment, beliefs about exercise, barriers to exercise, and ideal body shape have been explored as explanations. Yet, none of these factors independently explain the differences found. Only by identifying the complexity of factors affecting women's exercise behaviors during pregnancy can effective programs be developed. Focusing exercise interventions on pregnant women allows health care professionals to aim efforts on a population at increased risk for becoming overweight or obese. These well focused programs could take a step toward combating the epidemic of overweight and obesity.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Pregnancy, Exercise

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Topics in Maternal Child Health

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA