UNC Research Week: Yeo finds that stretching has the power to lower the risk of heart disease for pregnant women

To celebrate UNC Research Week, we are highlighting just a few of the incredible nursing scientists here at SON.

Project
Promoting Stretching Exercise to Reduce Cardiovascular Health Risk in Late Pregnant Women with Obesity

Principal Investigator
SeonAe Yeo, RNC, PhD, FAAN

For most pregnant women, regular aerobic exercise — as much as 30 minutes, five days a week — is a recommended part of a healthy pregnancy. In fact, a sedentary lifestyle during pregnancy can put both mother and baby at risk for complications such as preeclampsia, which is a significant contributor to cardiovascular disease later in life. However, due to fatigue and discomfort, exercise naturally becomes more difficult in the later months of pregnancy.

SeonAe Yeo’s project tests how stretching exercises may be the key to promoting health and preventing complications when pregnant women are starting to feel less mobile. In sedentary, overweight pregnant women with a history of preeclampsia, 10 or more weeks of stretching exercise reduced their risk of preeclampsia by lowering blood pressure and enhancing antioxidant uptake. As many pregnant women from underserved groups are at risk for obesity, stretching exercise is a practical, cost-effective prenatal regimen they can stick with.