In the study, Dr. James Pivarnik, a professor of kinesiology and epidemiology at Michigan State University, co-led an investigation that followed 56 women during pregnancy.
Researchers measured women’s physical activity levels, recorded perceived barriers to exercise, and documented if a women was able to overcome the impediments allowing prior levels of physical activity.
Six years later, the research team followed up with more than half of the participants and found that the women who considered themselves less able to take on these barriers had retained more of their pregnancy weight.
Top barriers identified in the study included time, motivation, and child care issues.
Researchers believe the findings will help health professionals better understand real and perceived physical activity obstacles for women after childbirth.
This knowledge will help new mother’s deal with negative perceptions while incorporating physical activity into their daily lives.
“The women who had difficulty believing they could overcome barriers that often occur in daily life or just thought they weren’t cut out for physical activity overall retained 11 to 13 more pounds of pregnancy weight later on,” Pivarnik said.
In contrast, the study revealed that those who showed higher levels of self-confidence had four to five times more physical activity during pregnancy and performed almost three times more activity six years later.
“We know that it’s beneficial for a woman to be active in some way during and after pregnancy so she can regain her fitness and help with weight loss,” Pivarnik said.
“But what can affect this is whether women think they can or can’t do it.”
Source: Michigan State University