Physical Activity and Muscular Strengthening in Pregnancy: A Comparison Between Rural and Urban Women


Though known to improve pregnancy outcomes, physical activity generally decreases through pregnancy.  Though some research has shown rural American women to be less active than urban dwellers, little is known regarding differences in such specific activities between rural and urban pregnant women.  Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare self-reported physical activity patterns and muscular strength training activities between rural and urban pregnant women. Sample: Sample included 88 rural and urban pregnant women, mean age 25.83, in the southeastern region of the United States. Method: Women were recruited from the waiting rooms of regional obstetrician offices. Following consent, physical activity was assessed by the short-form of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), and muscular strengthening activity was measured by an adapted self-report questionnaire. Findings: Several significant differences between rural and urban women included total number of minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, number of days per week of moderate activity, and time spent in resistance training. There was also a difference in total activity between participants with a high school education or lower and those with a college or higher education. There was no significant difference in total physical activity among trimesters for the entire group or between groups, showing no change across pregnancy. Conclusions: Rural pregnant women are less likely to engage in some levels of physical activity than urban counterparts. Further investigation is recommended to understand specific factors influencing health and activity patterns of rural pregnant women.

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