Physical Activities For Moms

By Cheryl Albright, PH.D
Interviewed by Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - March 03, 2010
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Cheryl Albright, PH.D
Associate professor of the Prevention and Control Program at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii

The Cancer Research Center of Hawaii has a new project, Na Mikimiki, that you are heading. Can you explain what it is?

Na Mikimiki is Hawaiian for “the active one.” It’s a project to encourage new moms with a baby less than 12 months old to become more physically active, especially moms who had gestational diabetes when they were pregnant. It’s funded by the National Institute of Health, and basically it’s a research study that women can join to get information on how to be more active after having a baby. It’s often a challenge for mothers to keep up with physical activity, so we want to encourage them and we follow them for 18 months.

We are just starting with this, so we’re looking for about 50-60 more women. And we’ll be accepting members for about another eight months. This is a two-step study. First we recruited 270 women who did not have gestational diabetes, and now we’re in stage 2 - recruiting women who did have gestational diabetes.


Who is able to join?

There are specific criteria, the first one being that the woman had gestational diabetes during her last pregnancy. The other criteria is that her baby is from 2 to 12 months old, they live on Oahu, they’re 18-45 years old and that they are healthy enough to be physically active.

Why is this study targeting new moms who had gestational diabetes? Are those women more prone to inactivity or weight gain?

There is an issue with weight, and sometimes it depends on the ethnic group. Some groups can have gestational diabetes and not have gained a lot of weight. So it’s not exactly weight, it’s more that they are at higher risk to get Type 2 diabetes after having gestational diabetes - two to three times the risk. It’s been shown that physical activity can help prevent weight gain, but this is not a weight-loss study because there is no diet component. This study is done to encourage physical activity, which has been shown to prevent diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Why do many women find it difficult to resume regular physical activity after giving birth?

A lot of the reasons that some moms have reported is that they don’t have enough time and everything is about the baby. They almost feel guilty if they prioritize themselves over the baby’s needs. Those are the biggest reasons and barriers from including physical activity in their lifestyle. And many have more than one baby and their lives are very busy. So many moms often don’t take times for themselves.

What are the benefits of being a member?

They receive information through resources and also advice. It’s really a way to help motivate them to figure out how to incorporate physical activity in their lifestyle. So we problem-solve, we motivate and we have specially designed Web sites. And they come to our offices here twice. They come for an initial visit and then they come back after 12 months.

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to get started and what it takes to get going - I think we can offer that type of advice to moms. Another big thing is to have moms understand that taking better care of themselves means taking better care of their baby. This is helpful to moms who don’t prioritize themselves and everything is all about the baby.

Do the moms involved with Na Mikimiki meet one another in some type of support-group setting?

No. We give them all the information and support. I always like to say that anyone who is in a research study will do better because of all the resources and information.

For more information, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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