Barriers to physical activity in pregnant women living in Iran and its predictors: a cross sectional study

Zari Dolatabadi, Leila Amiri-Farahani, Katayon Ahmadi, Dr Sally Pezaro

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    Background and aims
    Despite the benefits of physical activity (PA) on maternal and fetal health, the level of PA is low among pregnant women globally. The aim of this study was to determine the barriers to PA and its predictors in Iranian pregnant women specifically.

    This cross-sectional study included 300 pregnant women referred to the Ilam health centers of Iran. The sampling strategy used stratified random proportional allocation sampling from both comprehensive health centers and health bases. Data were collected from September to December 2018 in relation to individual characteristics. Data collection tools used included the Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire and the Barriers to Physical Activity during Pregnancy Scale. To analyze the data, descriptive statistics and statistical tests of analysis including variance, independent t-test and multiple linear regression were used.

    The mean and SD of the total score of PA barriers was 88.55 and 19.28, respectively. The highest and lowest mean scores of the subscale of PA barriers were related to interpersonal and environmental barriers, respectively. Among the intrapersonal barriers related to pregnancy; fear of pregnancy complications, drowsiness, and nausea and vomiting, heaviness or swelling barriers scored higher than other barriers. Lack of regular schedule, insufficient time, and lack of motivation received the highest score in terms of intrapersonal barriers non-related to pregnancy. In the interpersonal subscale; lack of knowledge about how to be physically active during pregnancy, forbiddance of PA by friends and family, as well as lack of advice from physicians and midwives scored higher than other barriers. Lack of adequate facilities and air pollution were identified as barriers to PA in the environmental subscale. PA barriers were significantly associated with pre-pregnancy or early pregnancy body mass index (B = − 14.643), level of education (B = 17.215), and habitual exercise pre-pregnancy (B = − 7.15).

    Interpersonal barriers were reported to be the most common barriers to PA during pregnancy. Perinatal care providers should encourage, educate and reassure pregnant women, their spouses and their families about the benefits, type and frequency of safe PA in pregnancy. PA interventions focused on women with lower levels of education and income in particular are required.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number815
    Number of pages11
    JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2022

    Bibliographical note

    © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativeco applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.


    This research was supported by the research grant no. IR.IUMS.REC.1397.1143 from Iran University of Medical Sciences. The author would like to thank the women who participated in this study. Funding Information: The present article was funded by the Student Research Committee of Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery in Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. The funding bodies played no role in the design of the study and collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and in writing the manuscript


    • Pregnancy
    • Physical activity
    • Barriers to physical activity


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