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Sarah Brown running while pregnant. (@sarahmb15/Instagram)

Take your marks

International Olympic Committee study says pregnant elite athletes can keep training

By WITW Staff on June 1, 2016

If you follow the advice of many old wives tales, pregnancy is no time for exercise. From fears of too much jostling to warnings about not raising your arms over your head, unscientific assumptions often suggest caution and nine months of rest and chowing down.

But the International Olympic Committee wanted to know more. The organization commissioned a study to see if this kind of vague wisdom had any place in the training schedules of elite female athletes. The IOC invited 16 experts to Lausanne, Switzerland, to look at pregnancy, childbirth, training, and competition and summarize what can interfere, recommend training “for high-level regular exercisers and elite athletes,” and point out gaps in the literature that can undermine confidence when making recommendations.

Their findings are being published in five parts in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The news is good for women who want to keep training during pregnancy.

“There are only a few high-quality studies into pregnancy among elite athletes or those who exercise a great deal, but it seems that many do continue to exercise during pregnancy, and it does not affect them in a negative way,” Professor Kari Bo from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and one of the study’s authors told the BBC. “It doesn’t seem to harm either the fetus or the mother.”

BBC reports that at least 17 pregnant women have competed at the Olympics. Memorably, an 8-months pregnant Nur Suryani Taini represented Malaysia in women’s 10-meter air rifle at the 2012 London Games. U.S. middle distance runner Sarah Brown trained for July’s upcoming Olympic trials throughout her pregnancy. She gave birth to a daughter this past March.

Read the full story at the BBC.


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