Origins in the Womb: Potential Role of the Physical Therapist in Modulating the Deleterious Effects of Obesity on Maternal and Offspring Health Through Movement Promotion and Prescription During Pregnancy

Journal Article

Abstract Maternal obesity and associated metabolic disease contribute to adverse outcomes in women and their offspring, and many of these outcomes have significant acute and chronic implications for both mother and neonate. Targeted movement (ie, physical activity or exercise training) during pregnancy has been shown to be safe and effective for improving many of these outcomes in women at a healthy weight and women who are obese. However, movement prescription and advice during pregnancy are often not addressed by health care providers; this situation creates a unique opportunity for physical therapists to use their expertise in movement with patients who are pregnant. The objective of this article is to briefly review the adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes associated with maternal obesity, the benefits of intentional maternal movement during pregnancy for women who are obese, the evidence-based guidelines for prescribing intentional movement during pregnancy for women who are obese, and the potential for physical therapists to become the driving force behind a necessary increase in movement levels in women who are pregnant. Physical therapists can play a significant role in encouraging movement in women who are healthy and women who have metabolic challenges during pregnancy and thus assist in combating the vicious cycle of obesity by improving maternal and offspring health.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Tinius, RA; Cahill, AG; Cade, WT

Published Date

  • January 1, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 97 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 114 - 123

Published By

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1538-6724

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0031-9023

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2522/ptj.20150678


  • en