Pregnant women’s attitudes to physical activity
Physical activity has substantial benefits for women with uncomplicated pregnancies, has minimal risks and is recommended in pregnancy guidelines.
The benefits of physical activity during pregnancy include: improved physical fitness, reduced risk of excessive weight gain, reduced risk of preeclampsia and pre-term birth, reduced low back pain improved sleep, reduced anxiety, less risk of depressive symptoms, and improved health perception and self-reported body image. On top of that, exercise during pregnancy can have additional benefits for women with comorbidities such as gestational diabetes.
Despite these benefits, more than 60% of pregnant women do not participate in physical activity as recommended.
A recent review and re-analysis of data from over 7000 pregnant women was carried out to determine why this might be.
The data confirmed that pregnant women have a positive attitude towards exercise: 80% identified it as important, 71% as beneficial and 86% as safe.
So what, then, prevented these women from exercising?
Predominantly it was intrapersonal such as fatigue, lack of time and pregnancy discomforts. The women believed that they would be more likely to exericse if there was greater social support during their pregnancy and access to a pregnancy-specific exercise program.
Unfortunately, little information was available about beliefs, barriers and enablers among women with gestational diabetes.
Behaviour change techniques are known to bring about behaviour change in this population.
The new results from this study can help direct those behaviour change technqiues towards issues that have now been clearly identified as key enablers or barriers to exercise during pregnancy.
Want to read deeper into this topic? Have a look at the free full text version of this article published in Journal of Physiotherapy!
> From: Harrison et al., J Physiother 64 (2018-02-09 08:01:35) 24-32. All rights reserved to the Australian Physiotherapy Association. Click here for the online summary.