Understanding the physical activity needs and interests of inactive and active rural women: a cross-sectional study of barriers, opportunities, and intervention preferences

  • Lisa A. Cadmus-BertramEmail author
  • Jessica S. Gorzelitz
  • Diana C. Dorn
  • Kristen M. C. Malecki


Despite the health benefits of physical activity, many women remain inactive and the needs of rural women are understudied. To understand access to physical activity barriers, opportunities, and intervention preferences in rural women and determine how these differ by self-reported activity level. A mailed questionnaire was distributed to 900 rural women and included measures of physical activity, health status, barriers, opportunities for exercise, and preferences for intervention type, components, and delivery. Questionnaires were completed by 507 women; 72.0% reported meeting the physical activity guideline. Inactive women reported greater barriers to activity (higher scores on 18 of 22 barriers; p < 0.05), less access to or usage of 8 of 9 places to exercise (p < 0.05), and less belief in the relevance of physical activity to personal health (p < 0.001). Both inactive and active women were most interested in programs that use walking, yoga, or strength training. Physical activity interventions for rural women need to address their specific needs, including barriers to physical activity and lower access to places in which to be physically active.


Exercise Barriers Epidemiology Health promotion Health behavior 


Funding sources

This study was supported by the Virginia Horne Henry Committee. Dr. Cadmus-Bertram is supported by 1K07CA178870. The Survey of the Health of Wisconsin is supported by the Wisconsin Partnership Program Grant #2791.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Lisa A. Cadmus-Bertram, Jessica S. Gorzelitz, Diana C. Dorn and Kristen M. C. Malecki declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of KinesiologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Population Health SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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