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Although physical activity during pregnancy may be beneficial, the prenatal period is a vulnerable time for decreasing physical activity levels and increasing sedentary time.
This longitudinal cohort study measured physical activity using the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) in singleton, pregnant women in the second (14–18 wk gestation; n = 332) and third trimester (29–33 wk; n = 256).
There was a significant decrease in total MVPA (MET mins/wk) between the second and third trimester (P = .01). The majority of physical activity time was spent in walking for transport (80%), and less than 2% in recreational activities. In both trimesters, being married was inversely associated with walking for transport (second trimester: β = –0.12 95% CI = –0.31 to –0.02, third trimester: β = –0.17 95% CI = –0.47 to –0.07) and owning a car was positively associated with recreational physical activity (second trimester: β = 0.16 95% CI = 0.02 to 0.32, third trimester: β = 0.17 95% CI = 0.04 to 0.27). The women spent an average of 5 hours per day sitting.
The low and declining levels of physical activity during pregnancy in this population are a concern. Interventions that include lifestyle education and provision of accessible recreational physical activity programs for pregnant women are needed.
Watson, Norris, and Micklesfield are with the MRC/WITS Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Dept of Paediatrics, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Watson is also with the Centre for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, School of Therapeutic Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Van Poppel is with the Institute for Sport Science, University of Graz, Graz, Austria; and the Dept of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Jones is with the Early Start Research Institute, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia.