Intentions Toward Physical Activity and Resting Behavior in Pregnant Women: Using the Theory of Planned Behavior Framework in a Cross-Sectional Study

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Pregnant women are recommended to 1) perform daily moderate-intensity physical activity and 2) limit the amount of sedentary time. Many women do not meet these recommendations. Reduced physical activity and increased sedentary behavior may result from women actively intending to rest during pregnancy. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) has been used to assess attitudes (e.g., positive/negative beliefs), subjective norms (e.g., perception of others' views), perceived behavioral control (PBC) (e.g., self-efficacy), and intention toward exercising while pregnant but has not been applied to aspects pertaining to resting during pregnancy.


Pregnant women (n = 345) completed a cross-sectional questionnaire that included two TPB Questionnaires where the target behaviors were 1) being physically active and 2) resting. Bootstrapped paired t tests, ANOVA, and linear hierarchal regression analyses were performed to identify predictors of intentions and whether intentions toward the two behaviors varied at different stages of pregnancy.


As women progressed in their pregnancy, their attitude, PBC, and intention toward being physically active all significantly declined. A positive attitude, subjective norms, and intention toward resting all significantly increased with the advancing trimester. Self-reported health conditions predicted lower intention for physical activity but not for resting.


The significantly inverse relationship between physical activity and resting across time suggests that women feel they should focus on one behavior at the expense of the other. Finding that women generally do not perceive these behaviors as mutually compatible has implications in strategizing as to how to encourage women to be active during pregnancy.

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