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Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period: The Potential Impact of Social Support

Christopher P. Connolly, Deborah L. Feltz, and James M. Pivarnik

Pregnant and postpartum women have reported a number of barriers that prevent them from being sufficiently physically active. Overcoming these barriers is critical to ensure the health benefits of physical activity to both mother and fetus. The primary focus of this review centers on the potential impact social support may have in overcoming each of the primary barriers to physical activity experienced during pregnancy and the postpartum period. A reasonable body of research exists regarding the relationships between social support and these barriers; however, few investigations have specifically attempted to mitigate the effects of these barriers via social support interventions. Within this review, the enabling influence of social support as it pertains to pregnant and postpartum women's physical activity is discussed. Recommendations are suggested for the application of social support in future research investigations involving physical activity during pregnancy and postpartum.