Study reveals pregnant women sit for up to 13 hours a day

  • February 21, 2014

Pregnant women sit for up to 13 hours a day, a UCT study has shown. Photo courtesy of Marcelo Cantarela

There is an increasing prevalence of overweight and obese individuals, non-communicable diseases, sedentary behaviour and physical inactivity in South Africa.

Physical activity before pregnancy, throughout gestation and after the baby’s birth is not only good for you, but also good for your baby.

A recent study undertaken at the University of Cape Town reveals that although approximately two-thirds of pregnant women are physically active during pregnancy, very few (around 30%) indulge in physical activity by choice.

Even fewer (12.5%) participate in activities that increase their heart rate and breathing.

Most physical activity during pregnancy is related to work, or walking to transport points such as taxi ranks.

The study also indicates that pregnant women sit for up to 13 hours a day.

The study, conducted by J Pearson, Dr L Micklesfield and Prof Lambert through the UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at the University of Cape Town (South Africa), identified the most common reasons women gave for not exercising while pregnant as back, knee or abdominal pain, being too tired or not having sufficient time.

Respondents said that having someone to exercise with or having access to an exercise programme for pregnant women would help them to exercise more during pregnancy.

Recommendations made in the wake of the study included:

  • Reducing sitting time during the day by regularly standing up and walking around
  • Doing at least 30 minutes of daily activity to increase heart rate and breathing, for example cleaning the house or walking to the bus stop

Important: you should always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise.

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