Purpose: Ten years ago, there was no access to community-based aquatic exercise in the Central CA region. In 2007 Aqua Moms was created for women who were seeking group exercise during pregnancy. Over 200+ women have participated since inception. Creating a community-based aquatic class required support from healthcare providers in the community in order to ensure safety, reduce risk, and gain exposure. The aquatic center is located inside a rehabilitation hospital, therefore administrative support was crucial to initiate a new program. Evidence-based materials were utilized to ensure special population best-practice guidelines were followed. Exercise recommendations by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) were identified for exercise precautions and contraindications. After receiving initial review of the exercise-program by an OB/GYN provider group the program was launched.
Description: Program design focused on access to women at any physical activity-level. A physical activity questionnaire and marketing brochures with medical clearance forms were created for the class. In addition, each new client received a personal interview with the PT/PTA to ensure forms, medical clearance, and general expectations for the class were received. The aquatic class was offered year-round at a frequency of twice weekly for a duration of 50-minutes including warm-up, cool-down, and aerobic activities with or without resistance dependent on stage of pregnancy. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and the talk-test were incorporated during physical activity to monitor intensity levels and remain in recommended ranges. Based on exercise recommendations by the ACSM, CDC, and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health promotion standards, healthy women during pregnancy are consistent with those for standard adult recommendations of thirty-minutes daily or 150 minutes weekly at moderate-intensity level.
Summary of Use: 89% of women enrolled in this community-based aquatic exercise program during their pregnancy (11% trimester one, 54% trimester two, and 35% trimester three). Average age at time of enrollment was 36.6 years. Twelve random participants, with available email on file, were mailed a questionnaire in an attempt to achieve retrospective qualitative responses from at least one participant per year since the class inception in 2007. Nine women responded and reported the following: delivery ranged 36-40 weeks, 66% vaginal births, 100% reported no complications, 88% reported no post-partum complications, 88% single births, and clearance to return to physical activity without any restrictions ranged 4-8 weeks post-delivery. Common subjective feedback seen across all respondents was the benefit of reduced low back pain symptoms during participation in aquatic exercises during pregnancy. Additional areas of benefit included general relaxation, improved sleep quality, ease of movement with exercise, and lower-extremity edema reduction.
Importance to Members: Aqua Moms provides an exercise option for women during pregnancy seeking physical activity in an aquatic environment. This class provides a private setting where women can exercise during pregnancy, receive support from other participants, and receive supervision provided by skilled therapists. As the physical therapy profession embraces societal issues it is important to identify the needs of your local community and identify how we can provide support to enhance physical activity, health, and wellness. By transforming society and increasing access to physical activity, it is imperative that we engage special populations with community-based programs to encourage continued movement during pregnancy.