Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 637–641 | Cite as

The Need to Objectively Measure Physical Activity During Pregnancy: Considerations for Clinical Research and Public Health Impact

  • Eva Guérin
  • Zachary M. Ferraro
  • Kristi B. Adamo
  • Denis Prud’hommeEmail author


Engaging in recommended levels of physical activity during pregnancy can provide a host of physical and mental health benefits for the expecting mother and her child. However, methodological issues related to physical activity measurement have plagued many studies examining the effects of physical activity during this important life stage. Burgeoning support exists for the more widespread use of objective methods, and accelerometers specifically, for an accurate appraisal of maternal physical activity. In this commentary, we highlight discrepancies between activity estimates obtained via self-report and objective measures and describe the implications of erroneous measurement when making clinical recommendations and in conducting future physical activity and pregnancy research. Most importantly, we aim to foster academic discussion and propose a call to action requiring a paradigm shift where we acknowledge the shortcomings of self-report and move toward an empirically driven approach for physical activity measurement. Results from more high-quality research studies will help support public health messaging and facilitate trust among health care providers, clinical researchers, and expecting mothers regarding the health benefits of physical activity recommendations.


Physical activity Accelerometer Gestation Clinical guidelines Health benefits Self-report 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva Guérin
    • 1
  • Zachary M. Ferraro
    • 2
    • 3
  • Kristi B. Adamo
    • 3
    • 4
  • Denis Prud’homme
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Institut du Savoir Montfort (ISM)OttawaCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Healthy Active Living and Obesity (HALO) Research GroupChildren’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research InstituteOttawaCanada
  4. 4.School of Human Kinetics, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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