Predictors of postpartum exercise according to prepregnancy body mass index and gestational weight gain

Danielle Symons Downs, Krista S. Leonard, Jessica S. Beiler, Ian M. Paul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The study purposes were to examine (1) differences in postpartum exercise (EX) and related personal/ psychological correlates in women according to prepregnancy weight and pregnancy gestational weight gain (GWG) status and (2) predictors of EX at 2 weeks, 2 months, and 6 months postpartum. Methods: Participants (N = 891) were recruited at maternity hospitalization and completed interviews to assess EX (Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire) and personal correlates (demographics, anxiety/depressive symptoms) before/during pregnancy. Telephone interviews were conducted to assess postpartum EX/psychological correlates. Women were categorized according to prepregnancy weight (normal and overweight) and pregnancy GWG status (above or within weight gain guidelines): normal-above, normal-within, overweight-above, and overweight-within. Results: Low levels of EX minutes were observed in all women with significant differences for strenuous EX minutes (overweight-within women had the lowest strenuous EX; normal-weight women had more strenuous EX than overweight women regardless of GWG). Correlates explained 14%–37% of the variance in postpartum EX; prepregnancy EX and pregnancy EX were strong determinants of early postpartum EX, and early postpartum EX predicted 6-month postpartum EX. Unique predictors of EX also emerged (eg, depressive symptoms for women with GWG above guidelines). Conclusions: These study findings highlight the benefits of EX before/during pregnancy for promoting postpartum EX and suggest tailoring postpartum EX interventions based on personal/psychological correlates to maximize effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)797-807
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Activity and Health
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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