Objective: To compare physical activity as assessed by a pedometer in obese and normal-weight pregnant women at different gestational ages. To evaluate the use of a pedometer in pregnancy.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: Department of obstetrics and gynecology in a university hospital in Copenhagen.
Population: 338 pregnant women, 175 normal-weight women with body mass index (BMI) 20-25 kg/m(2) and 163 obese women with BMI > or = 30 kg/m(2).
Methods: Physical activity was assessed by a pedometer (Yamax Digiwalker SW-700/701) on seven consecutive days in six different groups: normal-weight or obese at gestational ages 11-13, 18-22, and 36-38, and expressed as median number of daily steps during a whole week, working days, and weekends.
Main outcome measures: Relation between BMI and physical activity during pregnancy and compliance with wearing the pedometer.
Results: Noncompliance was more frequent in obese than in normal-weight women (19 vs. 10%, p < 0.001). Physical activity was lower in obese women at all gestational ages (6,482, 7,446, 4,626 steps/day in obese vs. 7,558, 8,865, 6,289 steps/day in normal-weight, p < 0.05-0.11). The greatest difference between obese and normal-weight women was seen during weekends. The level of physical activity was higher in both groups at mid-gestation than during earlier and later gestational ages.
Conclusion: Physical activity in pregnant women can be assessed by the pedometer and the method was well accepted by the women; however, the compliance was lower in the obese. The level of physical activity differs between different gestational groups and is lower in obese than in normal-weight women, especially during leisure time.