Factors associated with physical activity in women across the life span: implications for program development

Women Health. 1999;29(2):115-34. doi: 10.1300/J013v29n02_08.


This study examined the rates and factors associated with physical activity in women of various ages. Adult women (n = 653) from four community-based family medicine clinics completed a self-administered behavioral and health questionnaire while waiting to see their physician. Findings suggested variation in physical activity over the life span, with older women performing less physical activity than younger women. Family characteristics (e.g., having children) were strongly associated with performing less structured, less intense physical activities of daily living among women 49 years and younger. Younger women reported having high self-efficacy for physical activity, but also reported the greatest numbers of barriers. Women in the oldest age category reported health as the most common motivator for physical activity, but were also least likely to perform physical activity. Interventions designed to meet the unique needs of women at different stages in their lives will potentially reduce the rate of inactivity among women. Creative, flexible strategies that incorporate physical activity into the daily routine should be used in the program development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Exercise*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Missouri
  • Motivation
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Women's Health*