Effectiveness of interventions to increase device-measured physical activity in pregnant women
Our review found that interventions that promote physical activity during pregnancy have a small but important effect on increasing physical activity and managing excessive gestational weight gain.
Data from 18 studies were extracted and nine meta-analyses were conducted. The meta-analyses included the outcomes of total physical activity, steps per day, moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA), and gestational weight gain at last available follow up and 24-30 weeks gestation.
On average, women randomised to a physical activity intervention group achieved 435 (95% CI -0.5 to 870.6, p=0.05) more steps per day than comparators at last follow-up and 449 (95% CI 5.5 to 892.7, p=0.05) more steps per day than comparators at 24 to 30 weeks gestation. Those randomised to a physical activity intervention group achieved 34.2 minutes (95% CI -0.5 to 68.9, p=0.05) more minutes of MVPA per week than comparators at 24 to 30 weeks gestation.
Additionally, women randomised to a physical activity intervention group on average gained 0.69kg less weight than comparators at last follow-up (95% CI -1.30 to -0.08, p=0.03).
Our findings advocate in favour of the effects of physical activity interventions to promote physical activity during pregnancy and limit excessive gestational weight gain. These findings reinforce the importance of physical activity during pregnancy within any lifestyle context, supporting the health message that all activity counts and is important for health. Both pregnant women and healthcare professionals can now be reassured of the benefits of participation in physical activity based on device measured physical activity, rather than self-reported data.
Updated guidelines have highlighted the importance of promoting all durations and intensities of physical activity during pregnancy. Future research should focus on promoting physical activity through simple objectives such as increasing steps per day, which can be achieved through shorter bouts of physical activity to overcome the barriers such as time, fatigue, and accessibility concerns associated with pregnancy.
Sharp KJ, Sherar LB, Kettle VE, Sanders JP, Daley AJ. Effectiveness of interventions to increase device-measured physical activity in pregnant women: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity 19, 142 (2022) doi.org/10.1186/s12966-022-01379-w
Amanda Daley is supported by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Professorship award. This research was supported by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care.