Degree Type

Creative Component

Semester of Graduation

Spring 2021


Food Science and Human Nutrition

First Major Professor

Christina Campbell


Master of Science (MS)


Diet and Exercise


While the time a woman is pregnant can be filled with times of joy and excitement, it can also be filled with a substantial amount of distress. From physical stress due to possible morning sickness and body changes to mental stress now exacerbated by the stress of the pandemic in this high-risk vulnerable group of individuals. In addition, research has shown that poor mental health during pregnancy can lead to many health consequences, such as premature birth, low birth weight, and learning disabilities in the child later in life. While it is widely understood that physical activity can aid in diffusing stress and anxiety in non-pregnant adults, the effects of seated time on mental health in pregnant women has not been established. In the early months of the pandemic, the Iowa State University COVID19 and Wellbeing Survey was sent electronically to the ISU community to assess the impacts of the pandemic on sedentary time, physical activity, and overall wellbeing. Using data collected from pregnant women, a secondary analysis explored the effects of seated time and overall mental wellbeing, assessed via the Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS-7). Sedentary time (average 9.1 hours ± 3.7) was used to divide the sampled into three groups of low (0-6 hours), moderate (6-9 hours) and high (greater than 9 hours) seated time. The average SWEMWBS-7 score of each group was determined and compared across groups via a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). The same comparison was done again with a two-way ANOVA while also considering gestational age, divided into groups by trimester. Trimester one included gestational weeks 1-13, trimester two included weeks 14-27, and trimester three weeks 28 to birth. While the results of both ANOVAs were not statistically significant (F values of 2.754 and 0.342 respectively), the impact of sedentary time on mental health is worthy of further exploration as the effects of maternal mental health can have long-lasting implications for mother and child.

Copyright Owner

Bierma, Abbey

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