Recently I have been involved in studies on pregnant elite athletes. How hard can you train as pregnant? We aim to give some wisdom into that question.
There has been a substantial overweight in the number of male participants in nearly every physiological study. Balancing gender participation should undoubtedly be reflected in future studies. As a male researcher, it is a bit awkward.
Anyway – How hard can you train as pregnant? Is there an upper intensity limit for what is safe for the mother and fetus? Unfortunately, current research on high-intensity endurance training is lacking and there is no research on heavy strength training in pregnancy.
In this research project at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, they want to investigate the acute effects of high-intensity exercise on various variables in the mother and fetus, thus filling important knowledge gaps related to high-intensity activity in pregnancy. And I have been fortunate to have a small but exciting part in this study.
The study test the athletes in a sub-maximal interval session on a treadmill and ergometer bike and a maximum and sub-maximal strength training session. All are monitored closely to ensure the fetus’s and mother’s safety and health. We do ultrasound to monitor the fetus before, between, and after the sessions. We measure heart rate, core- and skin temperature and lactate profile.
The number of female conscripted soldiers in the Norwegian Armed Forces is now close to 50%. And even more, in recent years, female soldiers have been recruited in combat-oriented roles in the armed forces. Norwegian Special Operations Command organized a project in 2014 where they have explicitly begun to select female recruits. So to keep them fit and healthy during a pregnancy is truly valuable.
The thermoregulation in females fluctuates along the menstrual cycle. During the luteal phase, the control of both sweating and cutaneous vasodilatation elevates around 0.5C higher core temperature. The same is true in the high hormone phase when using oral contraceptives. But we know near to nothing about this during pregnancy.
There will likely be several publications from this study, a PhD thesis and several Master Theses. Can’t wait to find out more!