Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1180–1187 | Cite as

Low-Income African American Women’s Beliefs Regarding Exercise during Pregnancy



Exercise may decrease the incidence of obesity and obesity related complications during pregnancy including gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. African American women are at higher risk for obesity and physical inactivity during pregnancy when compared to other patient groups. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe in detail the unique beliefs and perspectives regarding exercise during pregnancy of African American women. A series of 6 focus groups discussions with pregnant African American women were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Focus group transcripts were qualitatively analyzed for major themes and independently coded for beliefs regarding exercise during pregnancy. A total of 34 pregnant, African American women participated in 6 focus group discussions. The majority of women were single (94%), had only a high school education (67%), received Medicaid (100%) and had a mean BMI of 33 kg/m2. Three major themes emerged regarding our subjects’ beliefs about exercise during pregnancy: (1) women had a broad definition of what types of activities constituted exercise, (2) women believed exercise was generally beneficial during pregnancy and (3) women believed certain types of activities or movements could cause problems with pregnancy. African American women overwhelmingly believe that exercise positively impacts pregnancy. A lack of knowledge concerning the benefits of exercise during pregnancy was not found to be a major contributor to inactivity in African American women. However, health care providers should be aware of cultural myths that prevent many African American women from performing certain activities during pregnancy.


African American Exercise Pregnancy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive SciencesUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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