Publication Details

Santos, P., Abreu, S., Moreira, C., Santos, R., Ferreira, M., Alves, O., Moreira, P. & Mota, J. (2016). Physical activity patterns during pregnancy in a sample of Portuguese women: a longitudinal prospective study. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, 18 (3), e22455-1-e22455-8.


Background: Physical activity (PA) patterns during pregnancy have not been explored in depth and most previous studies lack assessment of variables such as type, frequency, duration and intensity of activity. Objectives: This study had two goals: 1) to analyze PA patterns during pregnancy according to weekly time spent on different types of activity; and 2) to determine women's perception about health care providers regarding PA advisement during pregnancy. Patients and Methods: A longitudinal prospective study was carried out with a 118-pregnant women cohort. Participants were evaluated during all trimesters. Self-reported questionnaires were used to collect personal and obstetric data. Type, duration and frequency of PA were evaluated using the pregnancy physical activity questionnaire (PPAQ) and intensity levels were calculated. Repeated measure analysis of variance was performed to determine differences between trimesters, and Wilcoxon signed-rank test was performed when appropriate. Results: A decrease in values of self-reported PA (MET.h.wk-1) was found from the first to the second and the first to the third trimester of pregnancy, respectively; total (270.91 vs 220.54 vs 210.35; P < 0.01), light (109.45 vs 95.11vs 92.40; P < 0.01) and moderate intensity (81.99 vs 50.69 vs 62.94; P = 0.002). Time spent on most activities remained fairly stable throughout pregnancy. Women spent most of their weekly time during the entire pregnancy on household and caregiving activities, occupational activities and leisure, except sport activities. Swimming was the most reported organized PA, reaching its highest proportion (12.7%) in the second trimester. Prenatal exercise classes were reported by 39.8% of women during the 3rd trimester. Pregnant women reported that PA was recommended by health professionals: 53.9% in the 1st trimester, 70.4% in the 2nd trimester and 56.8% in the 3rd trimester. Conclusions: Self-reported PA decreased, especially from the first to the second trimester, in total, light and moderate intensity. Women spent most of their weekly time on domestic, occupational and leisure activities, except sport activities. There are some health care providers that do not recommend physical activity during pregnancy.

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