Pregnant women & aqua-aerobic classes in heated pools: an observational study (by Amanda L Brearley, Margaret Sherburn, Mary P Galea, Sandy J Clarke)

Question: What is the body temperature response of healthy pregnant women exercising at moderate intensity in an aqua-aerobics class where the water temperature is in the range of 28 to 33 degrees Celsius, as typically found in community swimming pools?

Design: An observational study.

Participants: One hundred and nine women in the second and third trimester of pregnancy who were enrolled in a standardised aqua-aerobics class.

Outcome measures: Tympanic temperature was measured at rest pre-immersion (T1), after 35 minutes of moderate-intensity aqua-aerobic exercise (T2), after a further 10 minutes of light exercise while still in the water (T3) and finally on departure from the facility (T4). The range of water temperatures in seven indoor community pools was 28.8 to 33.4 degrees Celsius.

Results: Body temperature increased by a mean of 0.16 degrees Celsius (SD 0.35, p < 0.001) at T2, was maintained at this level at T3 and had returned to pre-immersion resting values at T4. Regression analysis demonstrated that the temperature response was not related to the water temperature (T2 r = –0.01, p = 0.9; T3 r = –0.02, p = 0.9; T4 r = 0.03, p = 0.8). Analysis of variance demonstrated no difference in body temperature response between participants when grouped in the cooler, medium and warmer water temperatures (T2 F = 0.94, p = 0.40; T3 F = 0.93, p = 0.40; T4 F = 0.70, p = 0.50).

Conclusions: Healthy pregnant women maintain body temperatures within safe limits during moderate-intensity aqua-aerobic exercise conducted in pools heated up to 33 degrees Celsius. The study provides evidence to inform guidelines for safe water temperatures for aqua-aerobic exercise during pregnancy.

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