Factors associated with women's perceptions of physical activity safety during pregnancy

Prev Med. Aug-Sep 2009;49(2-3):194-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.06.004. Epub 2009 Jun 21.


Health benefits of physical activity (PA) during pregnancy have been noted, but women's perceptions of PA safety have been little studied.

Objectives: To examine associations among PA participation, safety perceptions, and demographic characteristics.

Methods: Pregnant women were recruited from nine clinics in Grand Rapids, MI (USA) from April to October, 2006. Demographics, participation in moderate and vigorous PA, and perceived safety of both intensities (5-pt Likert scales) were reported. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate associations.

Results: Of 342 eligible women, 296 provided complete PA information. Most (88%) participated in some PA and felt moderate PA was safe (89%), but only 36% felt vigorous PA was safe. Feeling unsafe/unsure about moderate PA was associated with non-White race/ethnicity, low education, low income, not participating in moderate PA, and/or not intending to be active during pregnancy. Hispanic ethnicity, low education, nulliparity, and not participating in moderate or vigorous PA were associated with feeling unsafe/unsure about vigorous PA.

Conclusions: Pregnant women generally feel that moderate PA is safe, but are less certain about vigorous PA. More work is needed to inform pregnant women about the benefits of moderate PA, especially among non-White and low education/income populations.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Physical Endurance
  • Physical Exertion
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • Young Adult