Physical activity and sedentary behavior during pregnancy and postpartum, measured using hip and wrist-worn accelerometers

Kathryn R. Hesketh, Kelly R. Evenson, Marissa Stroo, Shayna M. Clancy, Truls Østbye, Sara E. Benjamin-Neelon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Physical activity in pregnancy and postpartum is beneficial to mothers and infants. To advance knowledge of objective physical activity measurement during these periods, this study compares hip to wrist accelerometer compliance; assesses convergent validity (correlation) between hip- and wrist-worn accelerometry; and assesses change in physical activity from pregnancy to postpartum. Methods: We recruited women during pregnancy (n = 100; 2014–2015), asking them to wear hip and wrist accelerometers for 7 days during Trimester 2 (T2), Trimester 3 (T3), and 3-, 6-, 9- and 12-months postpartum. We assessed average wear-time and correlations (axis-specific counts/minute, vector magnitude counts/day and step counts/day) at T2, T3, and postpartum. Results: Compliance was higher for wrist-worn accelerometers. Hip and wrist accelerometers showed moderate to high correlations (Pearson's r 0.59 to 0.84). Hip-measured sedentary and active time differed little between T2 and T3. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity decreased at T3 and remained low postpartum. Light physical activity increased and sedentary time decreased throughout the postpartum period. Conclusions: Wrist accelerometers may be preferable during pregnancy and appear comparable to hip accelerometers. As physical activity declines during later pregnancy and may not rebound post birth, support for re-engaging in physical activity earlier in the postpartum period may benefit women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-345
Number of pages9
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Measurement
  • Physical activity
  • Postpartum
  • Pregnancy
  • Sedentary behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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