Encouraging physical activity during and after pregnancy in the COVID-19 era, and beyond

Lou Atkinson*, Marlize De Vivo, Louise Hayes, Kathryn R. Hesketh, Hayley Mills, James J. Newham, Ellinor K. Olander, Debbie M. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Physical activity is known to decline during pregnancy and the postnatal period, yet physical activity is recommended during this time due to the significant health benefits for mothers and their offspring. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed to reduce infection rates, pregnant and postnatal women have experienced disruption not just to their daily lives but also to their pregnancy healthcare experience and their motherhood journey with their new infant. This has included substantial changes in how, when and why they have engaged with physical activity. While some of these changes undoubtedly increased the challenge of being sufficiently active as a pregnant or postnatal woman, they have also revealed new opportunities to reach and support women and their families. This commentary details these challenges and opportunities, and highlights how researchers and practitioners can, and arguably must, harness these short-term changes for long-term benefit. This includes a call for a fresh focus on how we can engage and support those individuals and groups who are both hardest hit by COVID-19 and have previously been under-represented and under-served by antenatal and postnatal physical activity research and interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7304
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2020


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