Physical activity behaviour pre-, during and post pregnancy and its relationship with psychological well being
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Many women experience changes of mood and a reduction in physical activity levels. The purpose of this study was to discover the impact physical activity levels have on psychological well being between the three months prior to pregnancy, first trimester, second trimester, third trimester and three months post pregnancy and secondly to determine changes in physical activity levels within this time period. Participants were twenty nine women (mean age = 31) who completed self report questionnaires and had given birth within the last two years. Participants were asked questions regarding knowledge and opinions of exercise and exercise during pregnancy, participation levels in physical activity, tranquillity and mood scores pre-, during and post pregnancy and finally mother’s opinions of the effect exercise has on psychological health. Results demonstrated that all mothers had positive opinions on both physical activity and physical activity during pregnancy. Physical activity levels were shown to gradually decrease as pregnancy progressed. A significant difference in physical activity levels was observed between the three months post natal compared with the third trimester (p=0.001) and three months post natal (p=0.029). This was also evident between the second and third trimester (p=0.009). Water based activities and walking were the most popular forms of exercise within pregnant populations. Results also found that there was a significant decrease in tranquillity levels within the pre natal period (p=0.002), first trimester (p=0.009) and second trimester (p=0.020) compared with the final three months of pregnancy. Similarly significant increases in fatigue levels were also noted as pregnancies developed. Finally 83 % of the sample conveyed positive opinions when asked if they felt that mood was affected by exercise during pregnancy. This would suggest that moderate intensity physical activity has a positive impact on psychological health and that women should be encouraged to engage in physical activity during pregnancy to encourage positive psychological health.
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