Postpartum physical activity in overweight and obese women

J Phys Act Health. 2011 Sep;8(7):988-93. doi: 10.1123/jpah.8.7.988.


Background: Low physical activity (PA) during the postpartum period is associated with weight retention. While patterns of PA have been examined in normal weight women during this period, little is known about PA among overweight and obese women. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate PA and determine the proportion of women meeting recommendations for PA.

Methods: Women (n = 491), with a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m² were enrolled in a behavioral intervention. PA was assessed at six weeks postpartum using the Seven-Day PA Recall.

Results: Women averaged 923 ± 100 minutes/day of sedentary/ light and 33 ± 56 minutes/day of combined moderate, hard, and very hard daily activity. Women with a BMI ≥ 40 kg/m² reported more time in sedentary/light activities and less hours of sleep than those with a lower BMI. Only 34% met national PA guidelines; this proportion was significantly lower among blacks (OR 0.5, CI 0.3-0.9).

Conclusions: These overweight and obese postpartum women reported a large percentage of time spent in sedentary/light activity, and a high proportion failed to meet minimal guidelines for PA. Promotion of PA in the postpartum period should focus on reducing sedentary behaviors and increasing moderate PA.

Trial registration: NCT00212251.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Overweight / psychology*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Socioeconomic Factors

Associated data