Background: Understanding the predictors of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during early postpartum is important to improve promotion efforts. Affect-related constructs are key predictors of MVPA but have limited research in mothers during the postpartum period. Purpose: To examine two affect-related constructs (affective response to exercise and affective judgments) as predictors of MVPA intention and behavior across three months, among a sample of new mothers. Methods: Participants were 105 mothers (M age = 30.64 years; SD = 3.93) who completed measures during postpartum at 2-months post-birth of their first child. The affective response to exercise (assessed at baseline [2-months postpartum] during a submaximal treadmill test), affective judgments and intention (baseline, 6-weeks after baseline), and MVPA (baseline, 6- and 12-weeks after baseline) were assessed via self-report. Results: Path analysis, using ordinary least squares regression, showed that the affective response during exercise was a significant predictor of intention (baseline, 6-weeks), as well as change in intention from baseline to 6-weeks. By contrast, affective judgments predicted intention at 6-weeks, but not at baseline or in the change model. Past MVPA did not moderate these findings, although the affective response during exercise also had a significant indirect effect on MVPA through intention at 6-weeks and 12-weeks. Conclusions: Interventions targeting women's affective response during exercise may be important during postpartum, perhaps through self-paced physical activity guidance. Affective judgments may not be predictive of MVPA, in part due to unanticipated changes during early postpartum leading to inaccurate expectations of the physical activity experience.
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