Pregnant women's beliefs and influences regarding exercise during pregnancy

J Miss State Med Assoc. 2005 Mar;46(3):67-73.


Objective: To sample women's exercise habits and beliefs regarding exercise during pregnancy and to determine patient awareness and physician communication of ACOG's 2002 guidelines for exercise during pregnancy.

Methods: A 28-item questionnaire was completed by 211 patients at a private obstetric and gynecology (Ob/Gyn) group practice during a 4-week study period.

Results: Ninety-five percent of the women believed that participating in prenatal exercise was helpful. There was a significant correlation (P<0.000) between a woman's beliefs regarding the benefits of prenatal exercise and whether or not she chose to exercise during pregnancy. Forty-one percent of women surveyed and 41.6% of women who exercised indicated that their doctor had the most influence on their beliefs regarding exercise. Approximately 92% of the women who discussed exercise with their physicians were encouraged by them to exercise. In addition, women who were encouraged to exercise by their physician were more likely (P=0.005) to exercise than those who were not. Only 9.8% of the 133 women who talked to their physician reported that their physician helped them develop an exercise program. Over 69% of women were advised by their physician to place limitations on their exercise habits according to ACOG's 1985 guidelines rather than the current guidelines. A significant relationship was found between BMI and whether or not women exercised (P=0.001). Despite the previously known correlation between BMI and gestational diabetes, we failed to find a significant relationship between BMI and whether or not their physician encouraged them to exercise (P=0.531).

Conclusion: A majority of women studied believed that exercise will have a positive impact on their pregnancy, are deciding to exercise during their pregnancy, and indicated that their doctor had the most influence on their beliefs about exercise during pregnancy. Because women's behaviors are influenced by their physician's instructions, physicians should be prepared to counsel their healthy ante-partum patients on the benefits of prenatal exercise and be informed of ACOG's current guidelines.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Prenatal Care
  • Surveys and Questionnaires