Objective: Despite the well-documented benefits of a physically active lifestyle, over 25% of American adults report that they never engage in regular recreational physical activity. Little is known about the determinants of physical activity among pregnant women. We investigated the predictors of physical activity in 386 normotensive pregnant women.
Methods: Participants provided information about the type, frequency and duration of each physical activity performed during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. We calculated odd ratios (OR) for active compared with inactive women using logistic regression models.
Results: Approximately 61% of women reported participating in some regular physical activity during pregnancy. Walking, swimming, gardening and jogging were the most common activities. Physical activity as an adolescent (OR 4.0) and during the year before pregnancy (OR 48.9) were the strongest predictors of physical activity in pregnancy. Active women who continued to exercise during pregnancy decreased the average intensity of their exercise and the weekly duration of exercise compared with the year before pregnancy. Nulliparas were twice as likely to engage in physical activity as compared with multiparas. Education and income were positively related with physical activity. Non-White women were 40-60% less likely to engage in physical activity as compared with White women. Smokers were also less likely to engage in physical activity. High protein intake was positively associated with physical activity, while the opposite was true for high carbohydrate intake.
Conclusions: The identification of determinants of physical activity in pregnancy has important implications for developing strategies aimed at promoting a physically active lifestyle among young women.