Published Papers - Abstract 154

Brown WJ & Trost SG. Life transitions and changing physical activity patterns in young women. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2003; 25(2): 140-143

Background: Physical activity (PA) patterns are likely to change in young adulthood in line with the changes to lifestyle that occur in the transition from adolescence to adulthood. The aim of this study was to ascertain whether key life events experienced by young women in their early twenties are associated with increasing levels of inactivity. Methods: This was a 4-year follow-up of 7281 participants (aged 18-23 years at baseline) in the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health, with self-reported measures of PA, life events, body mass index (BMI), and socio-demographic variables.Results: The cross-sectional data indicated no change in PA between baseline (57% 'active') and follow-up (56% 'active'). However, for almost 40% of the sample, PA category changed between baseline and follow-up, with approximately 20% of the women changing from being 'active' to 'inactive', and another 20% changing from being 'inactive' to 'active'. After adjustment for age, other socio-demographic variables, BMI and PA at baseline, women who reported getting married, having a first or subsequent child, or beginning paid work were more likely to be inactive at follow-up than those who did not report these events. Conclusions: The results suggest that life events such as getting married, having children, and starting work are associated with decreased levels of PA in young adult women. Strategies are needed to promote maintenance of activity at the time when most women experience these key life-stage transitions.