Phase two of a CQUniversity study on the importance of staying active while pregnant has been launched and is now available to pregnant women attending seven different health clinics across the Rockhampton region.
Increasing activity behaviours among pregnant women is now recognised as a priority by world health organisations, as pregnancy has been identified as a critical risk period due to increased levels of sedentary behavior, reduced physical activity and poor nutritional choices that result in poorer short and long term health outcomes for the mother and also her unborn child.
Aptly named Fit4Two, the program is now in its second phase and is the brainchild of CQUni Physical Activity Researcher and lead investigator Dr Melanie Hayman.
"Fit4Two was originally developed as a website as a part of my PhD and has now progressed into its next phase," Dr Hayman said.
Dr Hayman said Fit4Two phase two would now primarily focus on the use of technologies to provide personalised and tailored physical activity advice to pregnant women, in a clinical setting, as a part of routine care - something that has never been attempted before.
"Pregnant women can complete a very brief survey via an iPad kiosk that is now located in a number of participating clinics within the Rockhampton region," Dr Hayman explained.
"Upon completing the survey, a personalised exercise plan that is based on unique computer algorithms and coding is generated and automatically prints within seconds for the pregnant woman to take with her," she said.
"The plan can then be used as a discussion point during the women and practitioner's consultation, or as a take-home source of specific, reliable and trustworthy information.
"It's innovative and ground-breaking as it pushes the boundaries of technology, so it is a very exciting time for Dr Hayman and the physical activity research team at CQUniversity"
Dr Hayman said the tailored take-home plan could extend further for the pregnant woman if she wished to continue to be supported through her pregnancy via the Fit4Two website.
"She can then participate in a four-week behavior change program that helps pregnant women set appropriate physical activity goals and develop weekly action plans, overcome perceived barriers and develop social support networks," Dr Hayman further explained.
"The website also boasts a variety of additional resources including an exercise library, nutritional advice and information and much more. The great thing is that pregnant women are receiving evidence-based physical activity information as a part of their routine care in a manner that is convenient, time efficient, cost effective and potentially wide reaching in that the Fit4Two program has the capacity to be rolled out and implemented on a large-scale with ease."
Dr Hayman said the Fit4Two program had attracted the attention of world-renowned researchers resulting in collaborative projects with leading international researchers. In fact, Dr Hayman is currently working on a grant application with researchers from the US and Canada worth 2.5million dollars over a 5 year period. This means many 2am meetings for Dr Hayman as a result of the time differences, but she is taking it all in her stride, saying that she is happy to get up that early if it means working with some of the most esteemed researchers in her field.
"One of the most rewarding things about my Fit4Two research is that it is so applied. The transition of research into practice, into the 'real world' is one of the most challenging aspects of all research, for all researchers, so I love that Fit4Two is leading the way and really pushing and testing the boundaries of technology as we go."
Participating clinics in the Fit4Two program include Dr Davenport, Dr Etherington, Dr Roopnarinesingh, Dr Shaker, Base Hospital Midwifery Group (Bolsover Community Health and Gracemere Clinic) and Essential Midwifery.
To be a part of the program, pregnant women need be considered healthy (free of uncontrolled medical and obstetric conditions) be of 12-32 weeks gestation, and have readily available access to the internet.