Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Rita H. Pickler


Approximately 50% to 80% of pregnant women complain of low back pain, edema, and other discomforts. Although exercise programs have been recommended to decrease the discomforts of pregnancy and improve body image. There is a paucity of research in this area. There is very little research on exercise in water, despite theoretical and empirical advantages of such activity.

This study’s aims were to determine the impact of an aquatic exercise intervention program on pregnant women’s body image, self-efficacy, perception of barriers to health-promoting behaviors, health-promoting behaviors, mobility, and discomforts. Pender’s Health Promotion Model (1996) served as the framework for the study. A two group quasi-experimental, pretest/post-test design was used. A convenience sample of 40 pregnant women who were at least 19 weeks gestation without medical complications as defined by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists comprised the sample. The experimental group (n = 20) participated in a six-week aquatic exercise program involving three 60-minute sessions per week. The exercises were designed to strengthen the pregnant woman’s abdominal muscles and flexibility. The control group received no intervention.

Data were analyzed using analysis of covariance. The discomfort and mobility pretest scores were entered into the ANCOVA equation as covariates on all hypothesis tests.

The participants in the exercise intervention group had a statistically significant improved level of body image (F = 3.44, p = 0.05, increased participation in health promoting behaviors (F = 3.58, p = 0.05), less discomfort (F = 33.07, p = <0.001), and improved mobility (F = 40.61, p = <0.001) than pregnant women who do not participate in the aquatic exercise. There was no statistically significant difference between the groups in the areas of perceived self-efficacy and barriers to health promoting behaviors.


Scanned, with permission from the author, from the original print version, which resides in University Archives.


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Nursing Commons