Engaging in physical activity can improve young girls’ self-esteem, physical health and social skills. A recent study suggests that regular physical activity in youth may also safeguard against dementia in later years.
Guided imagery was the most effective technique for helping pregnant women relax, when compared with progressive muscle relaxation and passive relaxation, according to a small study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology (2010;doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.03.008). Prenatal maternal stress can adversely affect an otherwise healthy pregnancy and exacerbate other pregnancy-related conditions like preeclampsia and hypertension.
In 2008, David Rowlands, PhD, senior lecturer with the Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Human Health at Massey University in New Zealand, published a study showing that male cyclists who ingested protein and carbohydrates between intense training bouts gained distinct performance and postexercise recovery advantages over men who fueled only with carbohydrates (Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 33 , 39–51).
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises pregnant women to exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week. The organization states that regular exercise may provide relief from some of the symptoms of pregnancy and help women cope with the pains of labor. A recent study published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (2010; 95 , 2080–88) has found that physical activity during pregnancy can lead to a modest reduction in offspring birth weight.
Fitness professionals working with cheerleaders should be aware of some alarming statistics. According to the 26th annual Catastrophic Sports Injury Research report from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (www.unc.edu/depts/nccsi), cheerleading is the cause of more catastrophic and fatal injuries than any other female sport. The report stated that—between 1982 and 2008—112 high-school girls experienced catastrophic sports injuries. Of those, 73 were related to cheerleading.
A recent study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association (2010; 303 , 1173–79) announced that women should average 60 minutes of moderate-intensity activity daily in order to avoid long-term weight gain. Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston investigated activity levels and weight change among 37,079 women for 13 years. The subjects were said to have consumed a “usual diet” during the intervention period; no details were provided about diet.