This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Contributions of Psychosocial, Environmental, and Policy Variables on Meeting Physical Activity Recommendations in Working Women




Gell, Nancy

Type of Degree





The purpose of this dissertation was to identify psychosocial, worksite policy, and environmental factors that facilitate adherence to physical activity among employed women. One hundred three employed women (age 23-65 years) from two neighboring towns in the southeastern United States participated in the study. Measures included physical activity levels by accelerometry with location of physical activity by global positioning systems. Personal variables, physical activity history, self-efficacy, social support for physical activity, outcome expectancies, self-regulation skills, perception of worksite policies, and perception of the neighborhood built environment to support physical activity were assessed by questionnaire. Cases, women who met the minimum physical activity recommendations, had significantly lower percentages of sedentary time compared to women who did not perform enough physical activity to meet public health recommendations (43.9% vs. 50%, p<.001). Cases performed an average of 271.0 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) over one week of monitoring with 1.3 bouts (≥ 10 minutes) of MVPA per day over seven days. The average distance between MVPA locations and home and work was 6.6 km and 7.4 km respectively, for all subjects. Cases had significantly higher scores for self-efficacy, outcome expectancies, self-regulation, friend social support, perception of neighborhood land-use mix diversity, and number of MVPA bouts using the built environment. There was no significant difference between cases and controls for perception of worksite policies to support physical activity. Meeting weekly physical activity recommendations was associated with higher self-regulation scores, perception of higher land-use mix diversity, perception of lower infrastructure and safety for walking in the home neighborhood, and use of the built environment for physical activity. The results show working women achieve recommended levels of activity through use of the built environment, self-regulation skills, and more than one bout of MVPA on an average day. Perception of the neighborhood built environment to support physical activity is also predictive of consistent engagement in physical activity. Working women who meet physical activity recommendations spend less time in sedentary behavior compared to women who do not meet recommendations. Overall the findings suggest interventions to promote physical activity for working women may want to incorporate strategies to use the built environment, develop self-regulation skills, and aim for more than one bout of MVPA on an average day to achieve physical activity recommendations.