A mixed-methods exploration of attitudes towards pregnant Facebook fitness influencers

Melanie Hayman, Marian Keppel, Robert Stanton, Tanya L. Thwaite, Kristie Lee Alfrey, Stephanie Alley, Cheryce Harrison, Shelley E. Keating, Stephanie Schoeppe, Summer S. Cannon, Lene A.H. Haakstad, Christina Gjestvang, Susan L. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: Exercise during pregnancy is associated with various health benefits for both mother and child. Despite these benefits, most pregnant women do not meet physical activity recommendations. A known barrier to engaging in exercise during pregnancy is a lack of knowledge about appropriate and safe exercise. In our current era of social media, many pregnant women are turning to online information sources for guidance, including social media influencers. Little is known about attitudes towards pregnancy exercise information provided by influencers on social media platforms. This study aimed to explore attitudes towards exercise during pregnancy depicted by social media influencers on Facebook, and user engagement with posted content. Methods: A mixed-methods approach was used to analyse data from 10 Facebook video posts of social media influencers exercising during pregnancy. Quantitative descriptive analyses were used to report the number of views, shares, comments and emotive reactions. Qualitative analysis of user comments was achieved using an inductive thematic approach. Results: The 10 video posts analysed were viewed a total of 12,117,200 times, shared on 11,181 occasions, included 13,455 user comments and 128,804 emotive icon reactions, with the most frequently used icon being ‘like’ (81.48%). The thematic analysis identified three themes associated with attitudes including [1] exercise during pregnancy [2] influencers and [3] type of exercise. A fourth theme of community was also identified. Most user comments were associated with positive attitudes towards exercise during pregnancy and the influencer. However, attitudes towards the types of exercise the influencer performed were mixed (aerobic and body weight exercises were positive; resistance-based exercise with weights were negative). Finally, the online community perceived by users was mostly positive and recognised for offering social support and guidance. Conclusions: User comments imply resistance-based exercise with weights as unsafe and unnecessary when pregnant, a perception that does not align with current best practice guidelines. Collectively, the findings from this study highlight the need for continued education regarding exercise during pregnancy and the potential for social media influencers to disseminate evidence-based material to pregnant women who are highly receptive to, and in need of reliable health information.

Original languageEnglish
Article number569
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Attitudes
  • Exercise
  • Facebook
  • Pregnancy
  • Social media influencer

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