Nkhata et al., 2016 Attitude to Exercise in Pregnant Women Attending Antenatal Care at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka

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Keywords: Attitude, Antenatal, Prescribed-Exercise, Practice, Pregnancy, Physiotherapy


Introduction: It is undeniable that exercise is a fundamental aspect of people’s lives and an important component of antenatal care. However, there is evidence, which suggests that, pregnant women are afraid to participate in physical exercise because they fear that exercise would negatively influence their health and pregnancy. Pregnant women are encouraged to continue exercising during pregnancy because more often than not it is beneficial for both mother and fetus. We explored the attitude of pregnant women attending antenatal care at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka Zambia to exercise and considered whether their level of knowledge, number of pregnancies, educational level and cultural background had an influence on their exercising or not during pregnancy.

Materials and Methods: The study was a cross-sectional and exploratory in design. Descriptive statistics were employed for data summaries. Association of factors was tested using the chi-square test while the level of significance was set at 5%. 

Results: Three hundred pregnant women participated in the survey; the mean age was 29.4 years (SD 4.29). Majority of the participants 93% (n=279) attached a favourable attitude to exercising during pregnancy while 7% had an unfavourable attitude. The pregnant women’s level of knowledge on exercise had a significant relationship (p-value <.0001) to their attitude towards exercise. Significant relationships were observed between attitude to exercise in the pregnant women and the number of pregnancies (p-value 0.001), educational level (p-value <.0001) and cultural background (p-value <.0001). 

Conclusions: Majority of pregnant women in Zambia have a favourable attitude to exercise during pregnancy. However, they do not know the specific antenatal exercises they should do. Instead, they practise general physical activities of daily living (ADLs) such as walking and performing household chores during pregnancy. This highlights the need for integration of Physiotherapy personnel in antenatal care programmes so as to give appropriate information, education and communication on the ideal exercise activities to pregnant women attending antenatal clinics.