Research Study Abstract

Measuring physical activity during pregnancy

  • Published on 2011

Currently, little is known about physical activity patterns in pregnancy with prior estimates predominantly based on subjective assessment measures that are prone to error. Given the increasing obesity rates and the importance of physical activity in pregnancy, we evaluated the relationship and agreement between subjective and objective physical activity assessment tools to inform researchers and clinicians on optimal assessment of physical activity in pregnancy. 48 pregnant women between 26-28 weeks gestation were recruited. The Yamax pedometer and Actigraph accelerometer were worn for 5-7 days under free living conditions and thereafter the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was completed. IPAQ and pedometer estimates of activity were compared to the more robust and accurate accelerometer data. Of 48 women recruited, 30 women completed the study (mean age: 33.6 ± 4.7 years; mean BMI: 31.2 ± 5.1 kg/m(2)) and 18 were excluded (failure to wear [n = 8] and incomplete data [n = 10]). The accelerometer and pedometer correlated significantly on estimation of daily steps (ρ = 0.69, p < 0.01) and had good absolute agreement with low systematic error (mean difference: 505 ± 1498 steps/day). Accelerometer and IPAQ estimates of total, light and moderate Metabolic Equivalent minutes/day (MET min(-1) day(-1)) were not significantly correlated and there was poor absolute agreement. Relative to the accelerometer, the IPAQ under predicted daily total METs (105.76 ± 259.13 min(-1) day(-1)) and light METs (255.55 ± 128.41 min(-1) day(-1)) and over predicted moderate METs (-112.25 ± 166.41 min(-1) day(-1)). Compared with the accelerometer, the pedometer appears to provide a reliable estimate of physical activity in pregnancy, whereas the subjective IPAQ measure performed less accurately in this setting. Future research measuring activity in pregnancy should optimally encompass objective measures of physical activity.


  • Cheryce L Harrison
  • Russell G Thompson
  • Helena J Teede
  • Catherine B Lombard


  • Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health Research Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia


BMC Public Health