Pregnant women need to move and farmers ‘should get sweaty’

Pregnant women need to move and farmers ‘should get sweaty’

One in 10 women in Ireland is afraid of exercising too much during pregnancy and many are not active enough, a new study has revealed.

he worrying findings also reveal one in five pregnant women here is failing to meet the recommended physical activity levels of at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity a week before conceiving.

The study is unveiled today at the annual conference of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists.

A cross-sectional survey of women attending structured antenatal exercise classes was carried out by chartered physiotherapists Charlene Hyland and Dr Louise Larkin from the School of Allied Heath, University of Limerick and Health Research Institute of the University of Limerick.

Exercise during pregnancy has several benefits and has been linked to coping with labour and getting back into shape after giving birth.

Chartered physiotherapists strongly emphasise the importance of exercise during pregnancy in the absence of medical issues.

The authors found that around 10pc of the women reported that fear of exercise was a barrier to physical activity.

The majority of those surveyed were from a higher socio-economic background and had the disposable income to attend physiotherapy-led exercise classes, but they still reported fear around exercise in pregnancy.

They said the findings are of concern because the women surveyed reported an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, as well as more home working in recent times.

Previously, office-based work meant they clocked up a certain level of physical steps and movement during the day.

They said that, in the absence of medical contraindications, pregnancy should not be a barrier to exercise and they encourage women to maintain fitness levels through areas such as antenatal exercise classes and walking.

A “key finding was the lack of awareness of the importance of exercise during pregnancy”, the authors said.

“Participants were asked if they were provided with antenatal education on the importance of physical activity during pregnancy, with 34 pc saying they were not.

“The 66pc of participants who received education listed the midwife, GP, physiotherapist and HSE as the main provider of information about physical activity during pregnancy.

“Survey participants report- ed that this information should be provided by GP and midwife, and be included as part of booking a visit, with participants stating information on physical activity during pregnancy should be more readily available.”

They commented that “everyone says it’s okay to do but no one says it should be done”.

The authors pointed out that physiotherapists have an important role in educating women on the benefits of exercise and the preventative role it has on reducing pregnancy complications.

Meanwhile, separate findings presented to the conference will hear evidence that “farmers need to get more sweaty and stop sitting as much”.

Chartered physiotherapist Denise Dunne said farmers need to engage in bouts of exercise lasting more than 10 minutes at a time.

Irish farmers are seven times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease compared to non-agricultural employees. 

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