Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Relationship between Physical Activity of Mothers before and during Pregnancy with the Newborn Health and Pregnancy Outcome

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Relationship between Physical Activity of Mothers before and during Pregnancy with the Newborn Health and Pregnancy Outcome

Article excerpt


Nowadays, low-activity lifestyle and lack of physical exercise has become a main problem in many countries. Pregnancy reduces the minimum level of physical activity in women even further. Finding that they are pregnant, many women stop doing their regular exercise and only some of women continue doing their physical activity during pregnancy (17, 49). Inactive life style during pregnancy has become a common universal disorder (49). One reason that stops women from doing regular exercise during pregnancy is cultural beliefs. Women may suppose that if they exercise during pregnancy, abortion or other risk factors may put them in danger (59). According to a report from Women Sport Federation, although about 30 percent of non pregnant Iranian women exercise, only 5 to 7 percent of them continue to exercise during pregnancy (52).

Low-activity lifestyle during pregnancy can lead to disorders like hypertension, mother and infant obesity, pregnancy diabetes, asthma, and epilepsy, which in addition to mother may endanger her newborn's health. Nevertheless, along with exercising during pregnancy some harm to mothers may ensue. For example, during pregnancy, connective tissue becomes very loose and joints become less firm and solid; consequently, joint structure is more susceptible to damage. Moreover, Uterine and breasts enlargement change the gravity center of the body. This can cause not only a cavity in vertebra, but also problems in maintaining balance (1).

A study conducted on 2828 women by Missouri health organization which showed that the level of exercise, the number of working hours, pregnancy specific activities including carrying heavy loads and long time hard activity increase the risk of abortion or causes the birth of underweight infants at delivery time (1).

Exercise and pregnancy cause different physiological changes in the body. If these conditions occur concomitantly in a person, cause complex physiological demands which can have different effects on newborn health and on labor (3). Some physiological phenomena that interfere with blood distribution are elevation of mother's temperature, metabolic changes of mother and fetus, and mother's hormonal changes. Given that during pregnancy mother's blood volume increases about 35 to 45 percent above the level of resting cardiac output (Araujo 1997) and that during exercise blood is diverted from internal organs to active muscles; enough oxygen supply to fetus finds specific sensitivity. Although research in animals shows that more than 50 percent of blood should flow towards fetus in order that the fetus not receive any harm, similar studies on women are missing. In other words, we do not know what level of exercise may reduce fetus oxygen supply (1). In addition, similar to non-pregnant athletes whose body temperature increases during exercise especially when they drink little liquids, body temperature in pregnant women increases while they exercise which can be hazardous to fetus. The reason is that the fetus is not capable of reducing his own body temperature through mechanisms such as perspiration. Regarding fetus reflexes in response to mother's exercise and activities, not much empirical knowledge is available. Nevertheless, it seems that fetus's various bodily systems are affected by it. For example, in response to mother activities fetal heart rate (FHR) increases from 10 to 30 beats per minute (Methyl mark and Bousner 1991).

One of the fetus's health indices at delivery is newborn's weight that is affected by mother's physical activity (10, 48, 49, 45, and 25). Dwarkanath muthayyas et al (2007) measured anthropometric characteristics and mother's level of physical activity in the first, second, and third trimester of pregnancy. They also measured weight of 546 newborns at delivery time. Results showed that physical activity had a direct but reverse correlation with newborn's weight at delivery time. The newborns of those who had high physical activity at first trimester of pregnancy were 1. …

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