Background: Studies have shown that interruptions in sedentary time in non-pregnant adults is positively associated with metabolic parameters, including abdominal obesity and glucose tolerance. However, there are no specific guidelines in the UK about recommended physical activity for pregnant women nor any validated tools to measure it. Our aim was to determine how much physical activity is carried out by pregnant women and how it relates to body anthropometry, glucose tolerance and depression.
Methods: A sub-study on physical activity levels during pregnancy was conducted as part of the multi-centre longitudinal PRiDE study, Physical activity was assessed by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) at 2 time points and depression by the PhQ-9 questionnaire.
Results: Completed questionnaires were obtained from women in the late first (mean gestation 12+3 weeks, n=1263) and second trimesters (26+4 weeks, n=982 The frequency of doing any vigorous or moderate physical activity and walking for more than 10 min/day were 18.6, 38.9 and 83.7% in visit 1 and 23.8, 50.9 and 96.9% in the visit 2 respectively. Corresponding sitting times were 5.7 and 5.5 h/day. There was good correlation between the different components of the IPAQ during pregnancy with shorter duration of sitting being the only significant predictor of frequency of walking in the First trimester (β=−0.40, P=0.01). The onset of gestational diabetes was associated with longer sitting in early pregnancy (6.5 vs 5.7 h, P=0.05). At visit 2, duration of sitting per day was predicted by gestational weight gain (GWG) (β=0.23, P=0.01) and higher level of depression (β=0.20, P<0.05) after correcting for age, BMI and socio-economic status.
Conclusion: Self-reported sedentary behaviour is associated with depressive symptoms and GWG. If proven in objective assessments, reducing sitting time could improve metabolic risk in pregnancy.