Women who joined a mind-body stress management program had better success becoming pregnant with in vitro fertilization (IVF) than those who did not join the program, according to a study published in Fertility and Sterility (2011; 95, 2269–73). Reduced fertility is associated with stress; however, it is unclear whether infertility causes stress or whether stress causes infertility.
Consistent practice of an Iyengar yoga routine helped breast cancer survivors reduce fatigue and improve mood and quality of life in a pilot study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2011;doi:10.1155/2011/623168). Persistent fatigue that includes physical, mental and emotional exhaustion is an ongoing challenge for up to one-third of breast cancer survivors for months or even years after medical treatment is over.
Relaxation exercises such as guided imagery [GI] may help both the expectant mother and the growing fetus to relax, according to a study published in Early Human Development (2011; 87, 121–27). Pregnancy-associated stress can influence fetal growth and gestation length, and can promote prematurity and low birth weight. This study’s purpose was to investigate whether a fetus could participate momentarily in maternal relaxation and, if so, to determine the underlying mechanisms responsible for the transferral.
It’s well known that female athletes appear predisposed to catastrophic knee injuries. A recent study suggests that a 4-week jump-training program may ward off such injuries. The study, published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2010; 24 , 3427–32), included 15 women basketball players whose knee valgus angle was analyzed during two landing tasks: drop jump landing and a crossover hop during a jump shot. The players then completed a 4-week jump-training program in which they received guidance on landing technique.
Widely used recommendations for determining heart rate maximum (HRmax) in women have been called into question. According to researchers, the popular formula of 220 – Age = HRmax may produce numbers too high for optimal female physical health. After studying how HR response to exercise stress testing was associated with age and death rates among 5,437 asymptomatic women over about 16 years, scientists settled on a new calculation: 206 – (Age x 0.88) = HRmax.
According to research, older women looking to improve gait and avoid hip fractures may need only 20 minutes of daily home exercise. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (September 27, 2010; 170 , 1548–56) followed 160 women with osteopenia for 7 years. At the beginning of the study, the women were aged 70–73. One group exercised daily for 20 minutes at home and participated in 6 months of supervised weekly training each year for 5 years. No information was available about the type of exercise performed.
In an official statement recommending yoga for pregnant women, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) states, “The rewards of basic yoga outweigh the potential physical risks, as long as you take caution and perform the exercises in moderation, according to your individual flexibility level.” According to orthopedic surgeon Rachel Rohde, MD, “One of the best aspects of yoga is being in control of your body and having the ability to do each movement at your own pace.” The AAOS statement is significant in providing support for more healthcare practition
According to the online version of the British Medical Journal (2010; 341:c3428), overweight and obese women have a greater likelihood of delivering preterm babies. Examining data from 84 studies that included more than 1 million women, researchers found that overweight and obese women had a 30% higher risk of delivery before 32 weeks gestation, and a higher risk of induced preterm birth before 37 weeks.