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Change in level of physical activity during pregnancy in obese women: findings from the UPBEAT pilot trial

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Louise HayesORCiD, Catherine McParlin, Dr Tarja Kinnunen, Professor Steve RobsonORCiD, Dr Ruth Bell



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background: Maternal obesity is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes. Physical activity (PA) might improve glucose metabolism and reduce the incidence of gestational diabetes. The purpose of this study was to explore patterns of PA and factors associated with change in PA in obese pregnant women.Methods: PA was assessed objectively by accelerometer at 16 -18 weeks' (T0), 27 - 28 weeks' (T1) and 35 - 36 weeks' gestation (T2) in 183 obese pregnant women recruited to a pilot randomised trial of a combined diet and PA intervention (the UPBEAT study).Results: Valid PA data were available for 140 (77%), 76 (42%) and 54 (30%) women at T0, T1 and T2 respectively. Moderate and vigorous physical activity as a proportion of accelerometer wear time declined with gestation from a median of 4.8% at T0 to 3% at T2 (p < 0.05). Total activity as a proportion of accelerometer wear time did not change. Being more active in early pregnancy was associated with a higher level of PA later in pregnancy. The intervention had no effect on PA.Conclusions: PA in early pregnancy was the factor most strongly associated with PA at later gestations. Women should be encouraged to participate in PA before becoming pregnant and to maintain their activity levels during pregnancy. There is a need for effective interventions, tailored to the needs of individuals and delivered early in pregnancy to support obese women to be sufficiently active during pregnancy.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hayes L, Mcparlin C, Kinnunen TI, Poston L, Robson SC, Bell R, UPBEAT Consortium

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth

Year: 2015

Volume: 15

Online publication date: 01/03/2015

Acceptance date: 12/02/2015

Date deposited: 12/06/2015

ISSN (print): 1471-2393

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s12884-015-0479-2


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Funder referenceFunder name
1060508Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government Health Directorates, Edinburgh, UK and Tommy's Charity; UK
251983Guys and St. Thomas' Charity; UK
RP-0407-10452National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) (UK)