Effects Of Physical Activity On Preterm Birth

Physical activities of daily living, climbing stairs and walking, nearly doubled the risk of preterm birth for low-income women according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. The study was published in the April 1, 1998 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. Conversely, leisure-time exercise was found to protect against delivery before 37 weeks gestation.

"Most research has focused on leisure-time exercise or occupational activity alone. These studies have generally ignored physical activity associated with daily life, such as stair climbing and walking to the bus," said lead author Dawn Misra, PhD, assistant professor, Maternal and Child Health.

Dr. Misra's study included low income 1,188 women enrolled in the study between April, 1988 and October 1989. The women were asked about physical activity related to three areas: physical activity of daily life, whether at home or work; leisure-time activity, strenuous as well as sedentary; and occupational activity.

Dr. Misra postulated that low income women might need to climb stairs more often if they lived in housing projects and might have to walk often in order to get to the grocery store or reach public transportation. However, leisure time activity, such as exercise appeared to reduce the chances of a woman delivering prematurely. Women who exercised moderately to strenuously more than sixty days throughout their first two trimesters had a fifty percent lower risk of preterm delivery. Physical activity solely related to the women's jobs did not appear to have any adverse effect on their pregnancy.



Contact: Sharon Rippey
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

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