Few studies measure physical activity objectively or at multiple time points during postpartum. We describe physical activity at 3- and 12-months postpartum among a cohort of women using both self-reported and objective measures.
In total, 181 women completed the 3-month postpartum measures, and 204 women completed the 12-month postpartum measures. Participants wore an ActiGraph accelerometer for 1 week and completed in-home interviews that included questions on physical activity. A cohort of 80 women participated at both time points. Poisson regression models were used to determine whether physical activity differed over time for the cohort.
For the cohort, average counts/minute were 364 at 3-months post-partum and 394 at 12-months postpartum. At both time periods for the cohort, vigorous activity averaged 1 to 3 minutes/day, and moderate activity averaged 16 minutes/day. Sedentary time averaged 9.3 hours at 3-months postpartum and 8.8 hours at 12-months postpartum, out of a 19-hour day. Average counts/minute increased and sedentary behavior declined from 3- to 12-months postpartum.
Interventions are needed to help women integrate more moderate to vigorous physical activity and to capitalize on the improvements in sedentary behavior that occur during postpartum.
Evenson and Wen are with the Dept of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Herring is with the Dept of Biostatistics, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.