Introduction: Physical activity recommendations for pregnant and nonpregnant women have been issued, but little data exist to compare the extent that these women are meeting the recommendation levels.
Methods: A population-based, cross-sectional study using data from the 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2000 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System evaluated the physical activity recommendations met by pregnant and nonpregnant women. The study population included women who were 18-44 yr of age. Random digit dialing, telephone surveys were used to assess all information. Pregnant and nonpregnant women were categorized into five mutually exclusive groups based upon their level of physical activity in the past month: vigorous activity (meeting guidelines) moderate activity (meeting guidelines), moderate or vigorous activity (not meeting guidelines), irregular activity, or no physical activity.
Results: Nonpregnant women were more likely than pregnant women to meet the vigorous or moderate physical activity recommendations. Walking was the most common activity among pregnant and nonpregnant women (52 and 45%, respectively). Pregnant women meeting the moderate or vigorous physical activity recommendations were more likely to be younger, nonhispanic white, more educated, not married, nonsmokers, and to have higher incomes.
Conclusion: Many pregnant women do not appear to be meeting the physical activity recommendations. Healthcare providers should further encourage the promotion of physical activity during uncomplicated pregnancies.