The Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices towards Exercise among Women Attending Antenatal Care at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia

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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