Walking patterns in pregnancy
Doran, FM & Buckley, NA 2013, 'Walking patterns in pregnancy', Australian Journal of Primary Health, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 213-218.
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Women are encouraged to be active before, during and after pregnancy. However, most pregnant women do not engage in sufficient levels of physical activity. For women who experience gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), physical activity recommendations are part of the standard management. Walking is the most common activity undertaken by women across the lifespan and often recommended by health professionals. Little research specifically exploring the patterns of walking before, during and after pregnancy has been undertaken. This study investigated patterns of walking undertaken by pregnant women, including those who experienced GDM. A sample of convenience was used to recruit pregnant or postpartum women in regional New South Wales, Australia. Women completed a self-report physical activity survey. The survey also included demographic questions, GDM diagnosis and physical activity advice received from health professionals. The respondents were divided into two groups; those with GDM (GDM) and those without GDM (NoGDM). In both groups, walking declined during pregnancy and returned to prepregnancy levels in the postpartum. This decline was similar to the decline observed in leisure-time physical activity. The GDM group walked more than the NoGDM group and a higher percentage of GDM reported being advised to engage in physical activity by health professionals. Even though walking is the most common activity undertaken for women across the lifespan, prepregnancy walking levels do not necessarily continue during pregnancy. Advice from health professionals may assist in maintaining walking levels during pregnancy. Encouraging pregnant women to continue their prepregnancy walking level may be a relatively simple strategy to increase participation in physical activity.