Physical activity in pregnancy: practical advice for women who run
Running is a sport enjoyed by many women across the globe; however, there is little guidance regarding the specific needs of women who run during and after pregnancy. This article explores the guidance regarding physical activity for the general non-pregnant population and relates it to what is available for women who are pregnant. It also remarks on the contraindications to physical activity during pregnancy. This article includes key information of which midwives and women should be aware of during pregnancy and the postnatal period. There are several health benefits, metabolic and physiological changes that may be experienced as a result of running and this article also explores a number of initiatives that can be used by midwives to support women in their care who run.
Running is embraced globally as a pastime to keep fit and health, and yet there is little information for midwives to give to women runners. Running is, according to Audickas (2017), the most common participation sport in the UK, but there is very little evidence about the specific needs of women who run during pregnancy and who return to running in the postnatal period. Midwives have a responsibility to encourage woman to adopt healthy behaviours such as exercise during pregnancy and as they move into motherhood.
The Department of Health's (2011a) ‘Start Active, Stay Active’ strategy recommends that adults should be active everyday and should complete at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week. Alternatively, similar health benefits can be achieved through 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Moderate intensity activity is an activity that results in faster breathing, whereas vigorous intensity activity can be described as activity that results in a faster heartbeat quickly and it is more difficult to have a conversation (Department of Health, 2011b).
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