Introduction: Appropriate exercises during pregnancy have proved to be beneficial to many expectant mothers, though how much and what kind of exercises varies from person to person. Gaining a greater understanding of women’s knowledge, attitudes and practices about exercise during pregnancy may inform the design of exercise interventions for this population to maximise exercise adherence and lifelong physical activity patterns.
Aims: The aim of the study was to obtain information on the knowledge, attitudes and practices towards exercise among women attending antenatal care at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional exploratory study. Data was collected using asemi structured questionnaire and summarized using descriptive statistics. The chi-square test was used to test associations and the significance level was set at 5%.
Results: Pregnant women practice general physical activities of daily living such as walking and household chores during pregnancy. Threehundred pregnant women participated in the study and majority (n=222) 74% showed inadequate levels of knowledge on the type of exercises done in pregnancy. Knowledge and attitude werepositively associated with the educational level (p<0.03) although exercise practice in relation to the educational level was insignificant. The number of pregnancies were also positively associated with the pregnant women’s knowledge (p=0.001), attitude (p<0.01) and practice (p=0.01) towards exercise in pregnancy.
Conclusions: Pregnant women practice general physical activities of daily living such as walking and household chores during pregnancy. Additionally, their information on exercise lacked detail, was inconsistent and with little specificity. This implies that during antenatal health talks information on exercise activities given to the pregnant may be lacking detail Health professionals who are experts in exercise sciences must be involved to provide correct and adequate information on exercises to the women. This is because engaging in exercise activities for pregnant women will only help maintain fitness levels but also, contribute to the reduction of discomforts and prevention of diseases such as gestational diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and back pain disabilities.
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