Parenthood and factors that influence outdoor recreational physical activity from a gender perspective

Sjögren, Katarina; Hansson, Eva Ekvall; Stjernberg, Louise
January 2011
BMC Public Health;2011, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p93
Academic Journal
Background: A physically active life promotes both physical and mental health, increasing well-being and quality of life. Physical activity (PA) performed outdoors has been found to be particularly good for promoting well-being. However, participation in PA can change during the course of a lifetime. Parenthood has been found to be a life event associated with decreased PA, especially among women, although studies in the field are sparse. The aim of this study was to investigate participation in outdoor recreational PA, and factors influencing participation among parents-to-be, with and without previous children, from a gender perspective. Methods: This study included baseline data from parents-to-be, 224 women and 208 men, from the municipality of Karlskrona in south-east Sweden. Data collection was carried out during 2008-2009. We measured the selfreported amount of outdoor recreational PA undertaken during the last year and analysed the probability of participating in this PA using 25 variables covering individual and socioeconomic factors. Results: Seventy-six per cent of the women and 65% of the men had participated in outdoor recreational PA, varying from several times per month to every day, over a 12-month period prior to one month before pregnancy. Participation in PA indoors and owning a dog or a horse emerged as the most important factors associated with the probability of participation in outdoor recreational PA. Men were affected by a greater number of factors than women, for example men who had a family situation that permitted outdoor recreational PA participated in activities to a greater extent than men without such a family situation. The physical aspect, i.e. improved physical condition, staying power and vigour, also played a significant role with regard to participation among men. Conclusions: Becoming a parent is a life-changing event that affects participation in PA. By offering familyoriented PA choices that involve both parents and children, midwives and health promoters can encourage parents to be active and to support each other. The promotion of outdoor recreational PA, which also has restorative effects on well-being, needs to focus on activities which are attractive and affordable for the majority of both women and men.


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