Research Study Abstract

Associations of physical activity, sedentary time and physical fitness with mental health during pregnancy: The GESTAFIT project

  • Published on May 2, 2019

To analyze the associations of objectively measured physical activity (PA), sedentary time and physical fitness with mental health in the early second trimester (16 ± 2 gestational weeks) of pregnancy.

From 229 women initially contacted, 124 pregnant women participated in the present cross-sectional study. Data were collected between November 2015 and February 2017. The participants wore Triaxial accelerometers ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometers for 9 consecutive days to objectively measure their PA behaviors and sedentary time. A performance-based test battery was used to measure physical fitness. Self-report questionnaires assessed psychological ill-being (i.e., negative affect, anxiety, and depression), and psychological well-being (i.e., emotional intelligence, resilience, and positive affect). Linear regression analyses were adjusted for age, educational level, accelerometer wear time, miscarriages, and low back pain.

Moderate-to-vigorous PA was negatively associated with depression (β = –0.222, adjusted R2 = 0.050, p = 0.041). Higher levels of sedentary time were negatively associated with positive affect (β = –0.260, adjusted R2 = 0.085, p = 0.017). Greater upper-body flexibility was positively associated with better emotional regulation (β = 0.195, adjusted R2= 0.030, p = 0.047). The remaining associations were not significant (all p > 0.05).

An active lifestyle characterized by higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous PA and lower levels of sedentary time during pregnancy might modestly improve the mental health of pregnant women. Although previous research has focused on the benefits of cardiorespiratory exercise, the present study shows that only upper-body flexibility is related to emotional regulation in early pregnant women. If the present findings are corroborated in further experimental research, physical exercise programs should focus on enhancing flexibility to promote improvements in emotional regulation during early second-trimester of pregnancy.


  • María Rodriguez-Ayllon 1
  • Pedro Acosta-Manzan 2,3
  • Irene Coll-Riscobc 2,3
  • Lidia Romero-Gallardo 2,3
  • Milkana Borges-Cosic 2,3
  • Fernando Estévez-López 4
  • Virginia A. Aparicioce 3,5


  • 1

    PROFITH “PROmoting FITness and Health through physical activity” Research Group, Sport and Health University Research Institute (iMUDS), Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Granada, Granada 18071, Spain

  • 2

    Department of Physical Education and Sport, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Granada, Granada 18071, Spain

  • 3

    Sport and Health University Research Institute (iMUDS), University of Granada, Granada 18007, Spain

  • 4

    Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Utrecht University, CS Utrecht 3584, the Netherlands

  • 5

    Department of Physiology, Faculty of Pharmacy and Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, University of Granada, Granada 18011, Spain


Journal of Sport and Health Science

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