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Prolonged Sitting During Pregnancy May Affect Placenta Health, Study Finds

A recent study has found that long periods of sitting during pregnancy could potentially affect placental health, which is crucial for the well-being of both mother and baby. (Source: Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport)

Study Details

The Queensland Family Cohort study, conducted in Queensland, Australia, discovered that pregnant women who sit for extended periods may face risks to their placenta’s health, impacting fetal development. The research tracked 203 pregnant women, who reported their physical activity levels at 24 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. Participants were divided into low, moderate, and high activity groups, with special attention to their daily sitting time. Sitting for more than 8 hours a day was considered excessive.

Key Findings

Using ultrasound technology, the researchers evaluated the health of the placenta, including its stiffness, thickness, and blood flow resistance. They found that overall physical activity levels did not significantly affect placental health. However, women who sat for more than 8 hours daily had stiffer placentas and altered blood flow, indicating potential functional impairment.


The placenta is vital for providing oxygen and nutrients to the fetus, acting as a crucial bridge between mother and baby. Any factor affecting placental health needs careful attention. This study highlights that excessive sitting could impair placental function, potentially impacting fetal growth.

Implications for Pregnant Women

It’s essential for pregnant women to maintain appropriate physical activity during pregnancy. This study emphasizes the importance of reducing prolonged sitting and encourages regular movement throughout the day to promote placental health and optimize fetal development.

Daily Activities and Exercise Recommendations

Dr. Richard Zeng from Melbourne’s Almond Wellness Centre suggests that healthcare providers should educate pregnant women about the risks of prolonged sitting. They should also encourage regular activity breaks and suitable physical exercises to mitigate these risks and support maternal and faetal health.

Daily Activities

  • Walking: Aim for 30 minutes of walking daily to stay active and relaxed. Morning or evening walks are ideal to avoid high temperatures.
  • Household Chores: Light housework, like tidying up or washing dishes, can help maintain activity levels. Avoid lifting heavy objects or prolonged bending.
  • Standing Breaks: Try to stand and walk for a few minutes every hour to avoid long periods of sitting.

Physical Exercise

  • Prenatal Yoga: Helps enhance flexibility and strength while reducing stress and anxiety. Consider joining a prenatal yoga class with an experienced instructor.
  • Swimming: Excellent for full-body exercise with minimal pressure on joints and the back. Slow swimming or water aerobics are good options.
  • Prenatal Pilates: Strengthens core muscles, improves posture, and balance. Seek guidance from a professional trainer.
  • Low-Intensity Aerobic Exercise: Activities like light jogging or stationary biking for 20-30 minutes, 3-5 times a week, keeping intensity moderate to avoid fatigue.

Acupuncture for Symptom Relief

  • Pregnancy Acupuncture: For symptoms like lower back, hip or pelvis pain, acupuncture can be an effective treatment option. It helps alleviate discomfort and promote overall well-being. Ensure treatments are performed by a licensed and experienced practitioner.


  • Consult a Doctor: Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting new activities or exercise routines.
  • Stay Hydrated: Ensure adequate fluid intake during and after exercise.
  • Wear Comfortable Clothing: Choose suitable shoes and loose, comfortable clothing.
  • Listen to Your Body: Stop any activity if you feel unwell, dizzy, or fatigued, and consult a doctor.

Appropriate daily activities and exercise can help pregnant women maintain good physical and mental health, preparing them for childbirth and postpartum recovery.