Effects of Sedentary Behavior on the Complications Experienced by Pregnant Women: A Systematic Review

Reprod Sci. 2024 Feb;31(2):352-365. doi: 10.1007/s43032-023-01321-w. Epub 2023 Aug 29.


Pregnant women are encouraged to reduce sitting time and replace it with physical activity. Complications arising during pregnancy include gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), and prenatal and postpartum depression. In this systematic review, we examined effects of sedentary behavior on the health of pregnant women. We conducted a systematic review with PubMed from year 2000 to identify the relationship between a sedentary lifestyle and psychological effects, occurrence of GDM, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia. Data extracted included sedentary time of pregnant women, psychological effects, occurrence of GDM, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia as outcomes. Among the 200 studies retrieved, 11 were finally included after screening. The mean age of eligible pregnant women ranged from 28.5 to 32.9 years. Five studies were extracted with outcomes of psychological effects on the mother, five with GDM, and one with gestational hypertension/preeclampsia. Longer sedentary time was associated with increased risks of prepartum/postpartum depression in three of five studies and GDM in three of five studies. No association was found between sedentary behavior and the risk for gestational hypertension/preeclampsia. Higher sedentary behavior in the second trimester of pregnancy was likely to be associated with postpartum depression. Longer sitting time may increase the risk of prenatal or postnatal depression and GDM, but no relationship was proven for gestational hypertension and preeclampsia in one study. High sedentary behavior in the second trimester may have psychological impacts. The number of studies was small and further research is needed to statistically evaluate impacts of sedentary behavior during pregnancy.

Keywords: Gestational diabetes mellitus; Gestational hypertension; Pregnant women; Prenatal depression; Sedentary behavior; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum*
  • Diabetes, Gestational* / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced* / etiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women
  • Sedentary Behavior