Healthy Start To A Healthy Life: An Exploration Of Perceptions Among Pregnant Women To Design A Path To Improving Activity Level During Pregnancy


Despite numerous physical and mental health benefits of exercise a large number of people fail to engage in a sufficient amount of activity. The sharpest decline in physical activity has been associated with pregnancy1. Research has demonstrated prenatal exercise is associated with reduced risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, lower birth weight, improved pain tolerance, depression and enhanced self-image. In addition to promoting maternal health, the fetus has prolonged benefits lasting till adolescence. Canadian guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week during pregnancy. However, only 20% of women meet this goal in North America.2 There have been limited attempts to explore the exercise behaviour in Canadian women. There is a need to understand the activity pattern, attitude and exercise behaviour among pregnant women in Canada. This study is proposed to recognize barriers to an active lifestyle during pregnancy by addressing the knowledge, attitude and practices among pregnant women towards prenatal exercise in Toronto area.

The objective of the study is to explore the beliefs to recognize the barriers to the uptake amongst women during pregnancy. The primary research will inform the development of an intervention strategy for adequate exercise uptake. The result of this study will be valuable to the family practitioners and obstetrics and gynecologists in developing better practices and tools for clinical implementation. Pregnant women will be the primary beneficiary of this change as both mother and child will obtain long term benefits.

The research study will be conducted after the ethics board approval from the University of Toronto. The study site will include a community family practice catering to low risk pregnant women. The study process will include semi-structured interviews of the expectant mothers after an informed consent, a qualitative thematic analysis of the transcripts and self-identification of a perceived barrier to exercise. After identification of barriers, a brainstorming session of stakeholders will be done to determine the adequate intervention strategies to promote an active lifestyle.
Subject selection: The research will include pregnant women with uncomplicated pregnancies. The scope will be limited to expectant mothers during pregnancy and up to 6 weeks postpartum. For semi-structured interviews we will interview women at any stage of pregnancy and within one year of birth.

The results will identify the exercise practice among pregnant women and barriers towards prenatal exercise. This information will guide the next stage to design effective intervention strategy.

Translation Component:
The participants will be provided with information resources. This will include designing a patient handout for information purposes, access to educational material and resources after verification with experts and stratification of intervention strategies at individual level for feasibility, accessibility and adaptability.

Capstone Team: 


Capstone Advisory Committee:

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TRP Faculty Lead:

Dr. Joseph Ferenbok