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Perceived Barriers to Physical Activity Among Pregnant Women Living in a Rural Community


Correspondence to:

Elaine S. Marshall, PhD, RN, Professor & Bulloch Healthcare Endowed Chair, Director of Center for Nursing Scholarship, Co-Director, Rural Health Research Institute, School of Nursing – Box 8158, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA 30460. E-mail:



The purpose of this research was to describe perceived barriers to physical activity among pregnant women living in a rural community.

Design and Sample

The project followed a simple descriptive design. The sample included 88 healthy pregnant women from a rural community in the southeast United States.


The women completed the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) and an open-ended item seeking a description of personal barriers to engagement in regular physical activity.


Scores on the IPAQ were generally equally distributed across categories of low, moderate, and high activity. A total of 42 barriers was described from 34% of the women. Seven themes emerged among the reported barriers: (1) symptoms of pregnancy, (2) family and childrearing activities, (3) lack of personal motivation, (4) time and employment demands, (5) perceptions of sufficient activity from daily life, (6) fear of injury, and (7) lack of a habit of activity.


Barriers reported by the rural women were similar to those identified in other settings. Some perceptions confirmed myths about the health value of exercise during pregnancy, but did not confirm barriers commonly cited or assumed for reduced physical activity among rural residents.

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