Psychosocial and demographic predictors of postpartum physical activity
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Physical activity promotes better health outcomes across the lifespan, and provides physical and mental health benefits for women who have recently given birth. However, research has not adequately characterized physical activity levels or risk factors for inadequate physical activity during the postpartum period. The objective of the present study was to describe levels and correlates of physical activity at 6 months postpartum in mothers of diverse race/ethnicity (55% African American, 23% White, 22% Hispanic/Latina), with the majority living in or near poverty. We analyzed data collected by the five-site Community Child Health Network study. Women (n = 1581) were recruited shortly after the birth of a child. Multinomial logistic regression models tested associations of demographic factors and self-reported stress in several life domains with total physical activity levels at 6–9 months postpartum, including activities done at work, at home, for transportation, and leisure. Thirty-five percent of participants in this sample reported low levels of physical activity. African American race, Latina ethnicity, and living in a rural area were associated with low levels of physical activity, whereas working outside the home was associated with high physical activity. Contrary to hypotheses, chronic stress was not associated with physical activity with the exception of financial stress, which predicted greater likelihood of being highly physically active. These findings suggest that optimal postpartum care should integrate physical activity promotion, and that African American, Latina, and rural-dwelling women may benefit most from efforts to promote activity following birth.
KeywordsPhysical activity Postpartum Health behaviors
The CCHN was supported through cooperative agreements with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U HD44207, U HD44219, U HD44226, U HD44245, U HD44253, U HD54791, U HD54019, U HD44226-05S1, U HD44245-06S1, R03 HD59584) and the National Institute for Nursing Research (U NR008929).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
Christine M. Guardino, Calvin J. Hobel, Madeleine U. Shalowitz, Sharon L. Ramey and Christine Dunkel Schetter, on behalf of Community Child Health Network (CCHN) declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and animal rights and Informed consent
All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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