Prevalence and correlates of objectively measured physical activity and sedentary behavior among US pregnant women

Prev Med. 2011 Jul-Aug;53(1-2):39-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.04.014. Epub 2011 May 4.


Objective: Physical activity is recommended for pregnant women without medical or obstetric complications. This study described the prevalence and correlates of objectively-measured physical activity and sedentary behavior among United States pregnant women.

Methods: Using cross-sectional data collected from the 2003 to 2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 359 pregnant women ≥16 years wore an accelerometer for 1 week.

Results: Women participated in a mean of 12.0 minutes/day (standard error (SE) 0.86) of moderate activity and 0.3 minutes/day (SE 0.08) of vigorous activity. Mean moderate to vigorous physical activity varied by trimester: 11.5 minutes/day in first trimester, 14.3 minutes/day in second trimester, and 7.6 minutes/day in third trimester. On average, women spent 57.1% of their monitored time in sedentary behaviors. In multivariable adjusted models, moderate to vigorous physical activity was higher in the first (p=0.02) and second (p<0.001) trimesters compared to the third trimester, and among women with higher household income (p=0.03) compared to lower household income. In multivariable adjusted models, average counts/minute was higher in the second compared to the third trimester (p=0.04).

Conclusion: Most pregnant women spent more than half of the monitored day in sedentary behaviors and did not meet recommendations for physical activity.

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Motor Activity*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimesters / psychology
  • Pregnant Women / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • United States
  • Young Adult