Clayton State Professor Jointly Publishes Results of Study in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Despite decades of doctors’ reluctance to recommend weight training to pregnant women, a new study has found that a supervised, low-to-moderate intensity program is safe and beneficial.
The study, hosted by University of Georgia (UGA) along with Clayton State University Health & Fitness Management Professor Dr. Melanie Poudevigne, is being published in the April edition of “The Journal of Physical Activity and Health.” The director of health and fitness management in the department of natural sciences at Clayton State, Poudevigne, along with Patrick O’Connor of UGA, have embarked on new research to further the importance of health and fitness management in every stage of life, including pregnancy.
“Doctors often have been unwilling to prescribe weightlifting, in part, because there was little evidence that it is safe and effective,” says O’Connor, a researcher in the department of kinesiology at UGA.
One reason physicians have been reluctant to prescribe weight lifting to pregnant women is that they produce high amounts of hormone called relaxin, which makes connective tissue become more lax, so that the body is more ready to give birth. Increased laxity could be associated with orthopedic injury. Hence the years of hesitation from doctors and physical therapists prescribing and treating pregnant women with weight lifting prescriptions.
The Poudevigne/O’Connor research, published in the current edition of “The Journal of Physical Activity and Health,” measured progression in the amount of weight used, changes in resting blood pressure and potential adverse side effects in 32 pregnant women over a 12-week period. After a total of 618 exercise sessions, none of the pregnant women in the study experienced a musculoskeletal injury.
“The data shows women can increase their strength even though they are pregnant and have never done weight-training before. And their body is changing over the 12-week period as the baby grows with no harm to baby at all,” says O’Connor.
The study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. Poudevigne and O’Connor say that, without the grant and the support of forward-thinking physicians, the researchers wouldn’t have been able to work in conjunction with obstetricians and midwives who wanted to maintain the normalcy in a woman’s life during pregnancy.
Now that O’Connor and Poudevigne and their colleagues have provided evidence that a supervised, low-to-moderate intensity training program is safe and effective, they plan to study whether or not the weight-training program can help reduce back pain in pregnant women.