Centre for Behaviour Change


Developing more effective interventions to promote physical activity in pregnancy

Through applying behavioural theory, we will investigate whether programmes for promoting physical activity in pregnancy are designed to target the associated barriers and facilitators.

Pregnant woman hiking

2 July 2024

Key Facts

PhD project

Title: Informing the development of behaviour change interventions which are theoretically congruent with the barriers to, and facilitators of, physical activity in pregnancy.

CBC Doctoral Student: Gemma Spickernell

CBC Supervisors: Professor Angel Charter, Dr Fabiana Lorencatto

Start date: 2023

Why this research is important

Physical activity has substantial benefits for women with uncomplicated pregnancies, minimal risks, and is recommended in national guidelines. Despite the well-documented benefits, studies have estimated that only 3–15% of pregnant women meet current physical activity guidelines in the UK. The perceived barriers to physical activity in pregnant and postpartum mothers are wide-ranging, extensive, and well-established. There are many interventions that have been implemented nationally with the aim of increasing physical activity in pregnancy, but the extent to which they target the barriers to, and facilitators of, physical activity is unclear. We will investigate this by applying behavioural theory and evidence-based tools to determine the match between the intervention, and the barriers to and facilitators of physical activity in pregnancy. To develop more effective programmes for promoting physical activity in pregnancy, it is critical that interventions include the components and characteristics most strongly associated with effectiveness. 

Find out more

Email Gemma: gemma.spickernell.23@ucl.ac.uk