Aim: The present study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of individualized exercise counselling in changing exercise behaviour and relieving pregnancy-related distress symptoms in pregnant women. Methods: A quasi-experimental design and convenience sampling technique were used. Participants were recruited from the prenatal outpatient departments of medical centre hospitals in Taipei, Taiwan. The experimental group (n = 52) received face-to-face exercise counselling followed by 8 weeks of exercise sessions in their homes. The control group (n = 49) received no exercise counselling. Pregnancy-related distress symptoms were assessed before and after 8 weeks in both groups. Results: The after-counselling scores of total (t = 2.46, P < 0.05) and physical (t = 3.18, P < 0.01) distress symptoms were significantly lower than the before-counselling scores in the experimental group. The total, physical and psychological distress scores significantly differed between groups and before and after counselling. The adjusted R2 values for total, physical and psychological distress symptoms ranged from 0.59 to 0.70. Participants' exercise habits increased from prepregnancy (19.2%) to after counselling (71.2%). Conclusion: Exercise counselling may effectively increase exercise habits and reduce pregnancy-related distress symptoms among pregnant women. Women with higher pretest symptom distress scores also had higher posttest symptom distress scores. Based on our outcomes, health care providers should routinely provide exercise counselling to pregnant women.
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