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Physical activity pattern and activity energy expenditure in healthy pregnant and non-pregnant Swedish women



Energy costs of pregnancy approximate 320 MJ in well-nourished women, but whether or not these costs may be partly covered by modifications in activity behavior is incompletely known. In healthy Swedish women: (1) to evaluate the potential of the Intelligent Device for Energy Expenditure and Physical Activity (IDEEA) to assess energy expenditure during free-living conditions, (2) to assess activity pattern, walking pace and energy metabolism in pregnant women and non-pregnant controls, and (3) to assess the effect on energy expenditure caused by changes in physical activity induced by pregnancy.


Activity pattern was assessed using the IDEEA in 18 women in gestational week 32 and in 21 non-pregnant women. Activity energy expenditure (AEE) was assessed using IDEEA, as well as using the doubly labelled water method and indirect calorimetry.


AEE using the IDEEA was correlated with reference estimates in both groups (r=0.4–0.5; P<0.05). Reference AEE was 0.9 MJ/24 h lower in pregnant than in non-pregnant women. Pregnant women spent 92 min/24 h more on sitting, lying, reclining and sleeping (P=0.020), 73 min/24 h less on standing (P=0.037) and 21 min/24 h less on walking and using stairs (P=0.049), and walked at a slower pace (1.1±0.1 m/s versus 1.2±0.1 m/s; P=0.014) than did non-pregnant controls. The selection of less demanding activities and slower walking pace decreased energy costs by 720 kJ/24 h and 80 kJ/24 h, respectively.


Healthy moderately active Swedish women compensated for the increased energy costs of pregnancy by 0.9 MJ/24 h. The compensation was mainly achieved by selecting less demanding activities.

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This study was supported by FORMAS, the Magnus Bergvall Foundation, the Thuring Foundation and the Swedish Society of Medicine.

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Correspondence to M Löf.

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Löf, M. Physical activity pattern and activity energy expenditure in healthy pregnant and non-pregnant Swedish women. Eur J Clin Nutr 65, 1295–1301 (2011).

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  • activity energy expenditure
  • activity pattern
  • pregnancy
  • walking pace

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