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Objective measurement of physical activity in overweight and obese pregnant women
  1. C McParlin1,
  2. TI Kinnunen2,3,
  3. PWG Tennant3,
  4. L Poston4,
  5. R Bell3,
  6. SC Robson2
  1. 1Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  3. 3Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  4. 4Maternal and Fetal Research Unit, Kings College Hospital, London, UK


Introduction Promoting increased physical activity (PA) during pregnancy could decrease the risk of obesity related pregnancy complications. At least 30 min of moderate or vigorous activity (MVPA) or 8000 steps/day are recommended. There is little information on PA levels in pregnant women. Self-report measurement methods tend to overestimate PA. This study assessed PA in overweight and obese pregnant women objectively using accelerometers and pedometers.

Methods 65 pregnant women, body mass index (BMI) >25 kg/m2, consented and had their PA measured for at least three valid days, using both measurement tools. Their mean age was 31.3 years (SD=5.6), mean BMI 31.2 kg/m2 (SD=5.5) and median gestation 13 weeks (IQR=12–20), 60% were overweight, 40% obese and 46% nulliparous.

Results 46% of women recorded ≥30 min/day MVPA via accelerometry while 30% recorded ≥8000 steps via pedometry. The mean step counts by accelerometry and pedometry were 6007 (SD=2039) and 5933 (SD=2777). Despite the small mean difference there was substantial intrapersonal disagreement, (limits of agreement= −3389 to 3357 steps/day).

There were no differences in any of the PA variables between overweight and obese women. Multiparous women recorded more time in light PA, (3 h 31 min, SD=47 min), than nulliparous women, (2 h 41 min, SD=45 min, p<0.001), while nulliparous women recorded more sedentary time, (10 h 15 min, SD=1 h 9 min, compared to 9 h 25 min, SD=1 h 44 min, p=0.031). There were no parity differences in the proportion of participants achieving recommended PA guidelines.

Conclusion Only 46% of participants achieved the recommended 30 min of MVPA/day, fewer achieved recommended step counts. Interventions to improve PA levels should target moderate intensity activities such as brisk walking.

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