Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Exercise Science

First Advisor

Abbi Lane-Cordova


Background & Purpose: African American women have higher rates of obesity than white women. Pregnancy is characterized by rapid weight gain, and 48.8% of women in South Carolina exceed recommended limits. Prenatal exercise is recommended and may help prevent excessive gestational weight gain (GWG). Our purpose was to determine whether GWG and prenatal exercise levels differed between African American and Caucasian women.

Methods: We included 79 women who delivered a singleton infant 6 months - 3 years ago and were free from smoking, type 1 or 2 diabetes, or use of steroids or protease inhibitors (mean age =31.3 yrs; mean BMI= 29.5 kg/m2 ; 22.4% African American). Participants self-reported their exercise habits during their second trimester of pregnancy using a validated survey. GWG in their most recent pregnancy was self-reported. Height and weight were measured with a stadiometer and digital scale. Differences in mean GWG and physical activity by race were assessed using Wilcoxon ranked-sum tests and a t-test. Associations of race with exercise and GWG were evaluated with linear regression, adjusted for current BMI and gestational age at delivery.

Results: There was no difference in mean GWG or pregnancy exercise between Black and White women. There was no association of race with GWG, B =-3.9, P=0.55. Pregnancy exercise was not associated with GWG, B= -0.14, P=0.28. However, an association between GWG and BMI was significance, B=-0.92, P= .028.

Conclusion: The results indicated no difference in GWG or pregnancy exercise by race and no associations of race or pregnancy exercise with GWG. However, an association of GWG with BMI approached significance. A future study should consider race differences in Institute of Medicine GWG categories defined by prenatal BMI.