A prospective examination of exercise and barrier self-efficacy to engage in leisure-time physical activity during pregnancy

Ann Behav Med. 2009 Jun;37(3):325-34. doi: 10.1007/s12160-009-9102-y. Epub 2009 Jun 5.


Background: Pregnant women without medical contraindications should accumulate 30 min of moderate exercise on most days of the week, yet many pregnant women do not exercise at recommended levels.

Purpose: The purpose the study was to examine barriers to leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) and investigate barrier and exercise self-efficacy as predictors of self-reported LTPA during pregnancy.

Methods: Pregnant women (n = 160) completed questionnaires eliciting barriers to LTPA, measures of exercise and barrier self-efficacy, and 6-week LTPA recall at gestational weeks 18, 24, 30, and 36.

Results: A total of 1,168 barriers were content-analyzed, yielding nine major themes including fatigue, time constraints, and physical limitations. Exercise self-efficacy predicted LTPA from gestational weeks 18 to 24 (beta = 0.32, R(2) = 0.26) and weeks 30 to 36 (beta = 0.41, R(2) = 0.37), while barrier self-efficacy predicted LTPA from weeks 24 to 30 (beta = 0.40, R(2) = 0.32).

Conclusions: Pregnant women face numerous barriers to LTPA during pregnancy, the nature of which may change substantially over the course of pregnancy. Higher levels of self-efficacy to exercise and to overcome exercise barriers are associated with greater LTPA during pregnancy. Research and interventions to understand and promote LTPA during pregnancy should explore the dynamic nature of exercise barriers and foster women's confidence to overcome physical activity barriers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities / psychology*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Pregnancy* / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Efficacy*