It’s a necessary evil, however. Lately I’ve been reminding myself of the benefits of exercise much more regularly.
There’s no vacation from the need for regular physical activity, even during pregnancy. Expectant women should shoot for a target of 30 minutes of brisk movement every day, at a pace sufficient to break a sweat.
A newly released study, conducted by researchers using The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), has found that women who own a dog are more likely to hit their daily exercise targets. The study appears in the online journal PLoS ONE.
The study examined the health of 11,466 expectant moms. Researchers discovered that pregnant women, who took the pooch for a walk every day, were 50 percent more likely to hit their activity targets than women in canine free households.
Carri Westgarth, of the University of Liverpool, co-authored the study, but believes they have only scratched the surface of understanding the correlation between dog ownership and physical activity.
“There are a number of current and planned studies in this field to try and discover more,” Westgarth said. “In particular, I would like to know more about the intensity and variety of physical activity that occurs during ‘walking the dog,’ and what implications this may have for prevention or management of obesity, in both people and the dogs.”
Prenatal exercise has a variety of benefits. According to Ian Currie, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, “Women should be encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancy.
“Many women find that recreational exercise helps them to adjust to the physical changes that occur during pregnancy. It may help relieve tiredness, lower back pain and reduce varicose veins and swelling of the feet and ankles.
“It also promotes a sense of wellbeing. Staying fit during pregnancy may help to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.”
I can certainly vouch for that. Pregnant or not, exercise is a real stress buster. The benefits of physical activity are equally important in the postnatal period when, let’s face it, life can be particularly tiring and stressful.
“For postnatal women it is safe to exercise as soon after the birth as they feel ready,” Currie indicated.
So grab the dog and go for a walk, you’ll both benefit from it. – Jen R, Staff Writer
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