Do physical activity levels differ by number of children at home in women aged 25–44 in the general population?

Laura P. Abell, Kelly A. Tanase, Madison L. Gilmore, Anna E. Winnicki, Victor L. Holmes, Jessica L. Hartos

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Objectives: While physical activity is important for health, many women do not meet recommended levels, particularly mothers. The purpose of this study was to assess whether physical activity levels differ by number of children at home in women aged 25–44 in the general US population. Methods: This cross-sectional analysis used 2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for females aged 25–44 (N = 6266) from California, Colorado, New York, Texas, and Utah. Ordered logistic regression analysis assessed the relationship between physical activity levels and number of children at home while controlling for state and demographic, socioeconomic, and health-related factors. Results: About half of participants reported “inactive” or “insufficiently active” physical activity levels and about two-thirds reported having one or more children at home. The results of adjusted analysis indicated that physical activity level was significantly related to having one child (adjusted odds ratio = 0.75, 95% confidence interval = 0.63, 0.89), two children (adjusted odds ratio = 0.79; 95% confidence interval = 0.67, 0.93), and three or more children (adjusted odds ratio = 0.80, 95% confidence interval = 0.67, 0.94) at home. Conclusion: Overall, physical activity levels were significantly related to presence of children at home for women aged 25–44, but increasing number of children at home did not impact effect size. For women aged 25–44 in a primary care setting, a moderate prevalence of inactive or insufficiently active physical activity may be expected. Providers should address physical activity with all patients in this target population during well-visits, but particularly for women with children at home; educate patients about the health benefits of regular physical activity; and provide resources that will help them integrate physical activity into their daily lifestyles.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWomen's Health
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019



  • children
  • exercise
  • mothers
  • physical activity
  • women

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