Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Molly E. Waring, Sherry Pagoto, Ran Xu

Field of Study

Health Promotion


Master of Science

Open Access

Campus Access


Background Physical activity (PA) is recommended during pregnancy, yet not all exercises are safe throughout pregnancy or for all women.

Purpose We content analyzed public Instagram posts about PA during pregnancy (n=600) to examine whether unsafe activities were depicted, to quantify the presence of safety disclaimers, and to identify characteristics of posts more likely to include safety disclaimers.

Methods We content analyzed post text, images, hashtags, and user profile to characterize posts, including presence of PA safety disclaimers (avoid/modify exercise, check with a medical professional before attempting, and/or watch for signs/symptoms), risk level of activity (safe, some safety concerns, and unsafe), a PA recommendation, personal experience (e.g., exercise routine), user type (non-pregnant individual, pregnant woman, organization), claims of health expertise (licensed, non-licensed, no claims), and number of followers. We randomly selected one post per user, resulting in an analytic sample of 478 posts. We conducted a classification tree analysis to identify post characteristics associated with use of disclaimers.

Results Six percent of posts depicted unsafe exercises, 42.1% exercises with some safety concerns, and 52.1% safe exercises. Fourteen percent of posts included PA safety disclaimers. The classification tree analysis identified 7 subgroups of posts with varying likelihood of including a PA safety disclaimer, from 6.4% of posts to 72.7% of posts that included a PA recommendation and depicted an unsafe activity.

Conclusions Due to almost half of activities depicted being unsafe or having some safety concerns, prenatal providers may wish to encourage pregnant women to vet PA-related information they see online.

Major Advisor

Molly E. Waring