Laboratoire d’Investigations sur les Mécanismes et Prédicteurs de liens entre Activités physiques, autres Comportements et Trajectoires de Santé

Physical Activity in Medecine

Description and Objectives

Although most doctors recognize that physical activity is associated with numerous therapeutic benefits, only a relatively small number prescribe it. Studies that fall under this research problem aim to:

  • Identify ways in which to include physical activity prescription into the regular practice of family physicians, and
  • Evaluate the intervention effects of promoting and prescribing physical activity in clinical care units

One of our main research projets under this theme tests the effects of a physical activity promoting intervention during pregnancy on maternal and fetal outcomes. Although it is generally known that physical activity is associated with the prevention of excessive gestational weight gain (GWG), gestational diabetes (GD), gestational hypertension (GHT) and macrosomia, fewer than two in ten Canadian women meet the physical activity recommendation during pregnancy. For a pilot study, we aimed to examine the effect of a physical activity promoting intervention during pregnancy on GWG, GD, GHT and fetal macrosomia.

Methods: Two groups of pregnant women who had their pregnancy follow-ups at the Obstetrics Clinic of the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre (DGLDUHC) in Moncton, Canada, were formed. The group exposed to the intervention received standard follow-up supplemented with physical activity education during pregnancy from a nurse accompanied by a physical activity prescription from a doctor. The comparison group received standard care. Respectively, 422 and 394 women were included in the analysis of data from the intervention and comparison groups. outcomes among women in the two study groups.

Results: The intervention was associated with a 29% reduction in the odds of developing GWG, a 73% reduction in the odds of developing GHT and a 44% reduction in the odds of macrosomia. The intervention was not associated with a reduced odds of developing GD.  The intervention was adopted and implemented by 100% of nurses and 71% of physicians. Women with pregnancies during the intervention-period perceived the intervention positively.

Conclusion: A combination of education about the appropriateness of physical activity and a physical activity prescription is an intervention to be considered in routine maternity care to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. Although it has a high effectiveness potential, this new low-cost intervention is simple to implement.

For more information on this study, you can consult the following article:  Saidi L, Godbout PD, Morais-Savoie C, Registe PPW, Bélanger M. Association between physical activity education and prescription during prenatal care and maternal and fetal health outcomes: a quasi-experimental study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2023 Jul 5;23(1):496. doi: 10.1186/s12884-023-05808-x. PMID: 37407926; PMCID: PMC10320878.