Community Level Predictors of Physical Activity Among Women in the Preconception Period

Cheryl A. Vamos, Haichun Sun, Sara B. Flory, Rita DeBate, Ellen M. Daley, Erika Thompson, Jennifer Bleck, Laura Merrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Although physical activity is a key behavior targeted during the preconception period given its significant impact on pregnancy/birth outcomes and psychological well-being, few women meet national guidelines. While intrapersonal factors influencing physical activity among this population have been studied, community factors remain unexplored. The objective of this study was to examine community level predictors of physical activity among preconception women. Data from Add Health were limited to women (Wave III; age 18–28; n = 7,596) and excluded respondents who were pregnant, physically disabled, and missing data. The outcome variable was ≥5 instances of moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in 1 week. Community predictor variables included neighborhood-level structural and social determinants (e.g., socio-demographic composition; landscape diversity; urbanization; access to resources; crime; vehicle availability). Multilevel logistic regression modeling was used to estimate the odds of engaging in ≥5 instances of MVPA. Few women (26 %) reported ≥5 instances of MVPA in 1 week. Adjusted multilevel analysis revealed women in the preconception period were more likely to report high MVPA when living in communities with larger population densities (OR 1.34, 95 % CI 1.02–1.77) and median household income greater than $50,000 (OR 1.33, 95 % CI 1.06–1.66). Additionally, a significant inverse trend was found between high MVPA and proportion of the community without a high school diploma. Findings suggest that neighborhood composition may have an impact on preconception physical activity status. Implications include increased efforts targeting community conditions for facilitating physical activity; ultimately, improving health among women and subsequent offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1584-1592
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - 22 Jul 2015


  • Community
  • Neighborhood
  • Physical activity
  • Preconception


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