Physical activity in mothers of infants: Results from focus groups and an 8 week pilot study

The Footsteps Project
      Mothers of an infant are much less likely to exercise regularly compared to other women. Focus groups (n = 79) were conducted to determine physical activity (PA) patterns before and after childbirth and mothers’ barriers/facilitators of PA. Using this information, a pilot study (n = 20) was conducted to test the efficacy of a tailored intervention to increase PA in postpartum women. In both studies, 50% participants were ethnic minorities, mothers’ mean age was early 30 s, their infants’ were 7–8 months old, and half were primiparas. Focus group data showed that 21.5% were inactive before and after birth; 22.7% were active before and after; 12.6% were inactive before, but active after birth; and 43.0% were active before but inactive or irregularly active postpartum (p < .0003). The intervention included telephone counselling, pedometers, referral to PA resources, and social support. Results for minutes of moderate/vigorous PA (MVPA) significantly increased from 3 ± 13.4 min/week to 85.5 ± 76.4 min/week (p < .001). There were no differences between the races in increased minutes of MVLPA. Thus, a tailored PA intervention was effective in increasing PA levels in postpartum mothers. Barriers to PA and PA preferences of new mothers will be discussed.
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