Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Harry Prapavessis


Research has consistently demonstrated that regular exercise during pregnancy is associated with improved maternal and fetal well-being. However, the majority of pregnant women fail to meet minimum exercise guidelines. The main objective of this dissertation is to contribute to the body of knowledge surrounding the promotion of exercise during pregnancy. First, a review of the existing literature highlighted which individual and social factors are associated with exercise or lack thereof during pregnancy. Using a randomized control trial design, study 1 (chapter 2) demonstrated that information about the role of exercise in preventing maternal-fetal disease grounded in Protection Motivation Theory can motivate initial behaviour change among pregnant women. Stemming from these findings, study 2 (chapter 3) sought to investigate whether these effects could be enhanced through the addition of an action planning or action and coping planning component based on the Health Action Process Approach. As hypothesized, repeated-measures ANOVAs demonstrated that by week 4 post-intervention, participants who had created action or action and coping plans were significantly more active (p < .001) than those in the attention-control group (η2 = .15 & .13 for accelerometer and self-report data, respectively). Finally, study 3 (chapter 4) revealed that a mere four weeks of increased exercise can lead to significant improvements in pregnant women’s psychological well-being.