Study objective: Determinants of leisure time physical activity (LTPA) in rural middle aged and older women of diverse racial and ethnic groups are not well understood. This study examined: (1) urban-rural differences in LTPA by sociodemographic factors, (2) urban-rural differences in LTPA determinants, and (3) the pattern of relations between LTPA determinants and LTPA.
Design: A modified version of the sampling plan of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) was used. Zip codes were selected with 20% or more of each of the following race/ethnic groups: African American, American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN), and Hispanic. A comparison group of white women were also surveyed using standard BRFSS techniques.
Participants: Rural (n=1242) and urban (n=1096) women aged 40 years and older from the US Women's Determinants Study.
Main results: Rural women, especially Southern and less educated women, were more sedentary than urban women. Rural women reported more personal barriers to LTPA, cited caregiving duties as their top barrier (compared with lack of time for urban women), and had greater body mass indices. Rural women were less likely to report sidewalks, streetlights, high crime, access to facilities, and frequently seeing others exercise in their neighbourhood. Multivariate correlates of sedentary behaviour in rural women were AI/AN and African American race, older age, less education, lack of enjoyable scenery, not frequently seeing others exercise, greater barriers, and less social support (p<0.05); and in urban women, older age, greater barriers, less social support (p<0.05), and less education (p<0.09).
Conclusions: Rural and urban women seem to face different barriers and enablers to LTPA, and have a different pattern of determinants, thus providing useful information for designing more targeted interventions.