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1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
In recent years, there has been a great increase of knowledge derived from scientific studies regarding physical exercise during pregnancy (Mason et al, 2010). This reflects the need to clarify their effects for mother and fetus, as some women of childbearing age report exercising and may continue their exercise practice during pregnancy, whereas other sedentary women may start this practice only during pregnancy.
As the effects of healthy lifestyle are well known andsupported by studies that show it is safe for bothmother and fetus, physical exercise is recommendedactivity for pregnant women. The American Collegeof Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendsthat all healthy pregnant women followthe American College of Sports Medicine-Centersfor Disease Control and Preventions general guidelinesfor physical exercise by engaging in 30 min ormore of moderate physical activity per day in themajority or preferably all days of the week.Women who were active before pregnancy maycontinue their activities, but change intensity andfrequency over the course of pregnancy.Other guidelines for physical exercise duringpregnancy and the postpartum period have beenpublished, such as the Canadian guidelines for exerciseduring pregnancy in 2003, and the recommendationsof the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 2006. Some researchersargue for the necessity of incorporating strengthtraining and muscle conditioning, revising the definitionof moderate exercise, and increasing theamount of vigorous intensity exercises and weeklyphysical activity expenditure.
Aerobic exercise is recommended to maintain cardiovascular fitness and to help prevent chronic diseases, apart from avoiding excessive weight gain (Valim et al, 2011). They should involve large muscle groups in activities such as when walking or jogging, using stationary bicycle, treadmill, swimming, water aerobics exercises, aerobic dance, or low-impact aerobics. Regardless of the choice of activity, it is important that women find a modality of exercise to which they will adhere over the long term. Those exercises that increase the risk of falling, abdominal traumas and contacts sports should be contraindicated (Valim et al, 2011).
Recent recommendations add strength training to the routine exercise of pregnant women. They suggest that light strength training during second and third trimesters does not affect newborn size or overall health. These effects have been rarely studied, although many women looking for muscle conditioning during pregnancy think that practices such as Pilates and yoga, circuit-type resistance training, and weight training could be beneficial (Artal&O’Tolle, 2003). The possible benefits of increasing strength and stretching training are improvement in overall bodystrength, good posture and body core strengtheningthat may contribute in labor, birth, and prevent musculoskeletal discomforts. In addition, pelvicfloor muscle strengthening is also an importantcomponent in pregnant women’s exercise. Routineexercise is required to reduce the prevalence of urinary incontinence. Nevertheless, there is little evidence-based literature concerning thesepractices, so it should be recommended to be carefulwhen women plan to be engaged in these activities,mainly when starting only during pregnancy.Attention should also be paid in avoiding exercisein supine position during the second half ofpregnancy in order to prevent hypotension andavoid the Valsalva maneuver throughout the pregnancy.
Previously, sedentary women should start with 15 min of exercise three times a week and gradually increase to 30 min four times a week at low-to moderate intensity. Active women may keep their routine exercise or perform at least moderate-to vigorous exercise four times a week in sessions of 30 min or more. Athletes or women who have higher fitness status should be evaluated individually. Some high-impact activities or sports with fall or trauma risks should be avoided, and the intensity of exercise like running should be reduced. For all, brief warm-up and cool-down periods should be incorporated to each session of exercise.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In Nigeria, there has been increased awareness about the benefits of exercise among pregnant women. Some clinical trials have been conducted to evaluatethe effect of exercise on maternal outcome such aslow back/pelvic pain, depression during pregnancy and postpartum, gestational weight gain and excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes and insulin resistance, urinary incontinence symptoms, cardiovascular fitness, and the impact of exercise on quality of lifeand health status perception.
Musculoskeletal discomforts such as lower back,pelvic, and/or joint pain are common complaintsduring pregnancy associated with the anatomicaladaptations during pregnancy and previous risks factors. However, active women were able to better handlethe condition. Musculoskeletal pain can also beattenuated with physical activity in some womenwho present mild pelvic and lumbar discomfort. So, this study is coming at the right time to assess the perception of pregnant women in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State on the benefits of exercise during pregnancy.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
- To examine the perception of pregnant women in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State on the benefits of exercise during pregnancy.
- To examine the importance and benefits of exercise among pregnant women.
- To identify the outcome of exercise among pregnant women.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What is the perception of pregnant women in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State on the benefits of exercise during pregnancy?
- What is the importance and benefits of exercise among pregnant women?
- What is the outcome of exercise among pregnant women?
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
- The result from this study will reveal the perception of pregnant women on exercise. The outcome of this study will also educate on the benefits and outcome of regular exercise by pregnant women.
- This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study will cover the views of the women of Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State on exercise among pregnant women.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work
Artal R, O’Tolle M. Guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Br J Sports Med 2003; 37:6–12.
Mason L, Roe B, Wong H, et al. The role of antenatal pelvic floor muscleexercises in prevention of postpartum stress incontinence: a randomized controlled trial. J ClinNurs 2010; 19:2777–2786.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.Committee on Obstetric Practice. Exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Am CollObstetGynecol 2002; 99:171–173.
Vallim AL, Osis MJ, Cecatti JG, et al. Water exercises and quality of life duringpregnancy. Reprod Health 2011; 8:14.
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