Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 806–813 | Cite as

Sports and Leisure Time Physical Activity During Pregnancy in Nulliparous Women

  • Hanne Kristine Hegaard
  • Peter Damm
  • Morten Hedegaard
  • Tine Brink Henriksen
  • Bent Ottesen
  • Anna-Karin Dykes
  • Hanne Kjaergaard


To describe patterns of leisure time physical activity during pregnancy in relation to pre-pregnancy leisure time physical activity, socio-demographic characteristics, fertility history, and lifestyle factors. 4,718 nulliparous with singleton pregnancy and intended spontaneous vaginal delivery were included in the study at gestational week 33 from May 2004 to July 2005. Information was provided by self-administered questionnaires. Leisure time physical activity was categorised into four categories: competitive sport, moderate-to-heavy, light or sedentary. In this population of nulliparous women, 4% participated in competitive sport, 25% in moderate-to-heavy activities, 66% in light activities, and 5% in sedentary activities in the year prior to pregnancy. Physical activity before pregnancy was statistically significantly associated with age, pre-pregnancy BMI, chronic diseases, number of years at school, and smoking habits. The proportion of women who took part in competitive sports, and moderate-to-heavy activities decreased over the three trimesters of pregnancy. The proportion of women with light physical activity was stable during pregnancy while the proportion of women with sedentary activity increased from 6% to 29%. During the third trimester women performing competitive sports or moderate-to-heavy activities before pregnancy continued to have a higher level of physical activity than women with light activities or sedentary activities before pregnancy. In general the intensity and time spent on exercise decreased during pregnancy. Women with the highest level of exercise prior to pregnancy continued to be the most active during pregnancy. Among women with sedentary activities before pregnancy one-fourth changed to light activity during pregnancy.


Prepregnancy Exercise Sociodemographic Lifestyle 



The study was supported by grants from the Research Committee of the Copenhagen Hospital Corporation, The Danish Association of Midwives, Aase and Ejnar Danielsen′s Foundation, Sophus Jacobsen and wife Astrid Jacobsen Foundation; The Augustinus Foundation, and Else and Mogens Wedell-Wedellsborg′s Found.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hanne Kristine Hegaard
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peter Damm
    • 3
    • 4
  • Morten Hedegaard
    • 3
  • Tine Brink Henriksen
    • 5
  • Bent Ottesen
    • 2
    • 4
  • Anna-Karin Dykes
    • 1
    • 6
  • Hanne Kjaergaard
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Panum Research-Section, Juliane Marie CentreCopenhagen University Hospital, RigshospitaletCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics, Juliane Marie Centre, RigshospitaletCopenhagen University HospitalCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Faculty of Health SciencesCopenhagen University HospitalCopenhagenDenmark
  5. 5.Perinatal Epidemiology Research Unit, Departments of Obstetrics and PaediatricsAarhus University HospitalSkejbyDenmark
  6. 6.Faculty of Health and SocietyMalmo UniversityMalmoSweden

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