Perceived Correlates of Domain-Specific Physical Activity in Rural Adults in the Midwest


  • Funding: This work was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cooperative agreement number 5 U48 DP001902-04. There are no conflicts of interest to disclose.

  • Acknowledgments: The authors wish to thank Dr. Kathleen Janz and Dr. Joe Coulter for their support in preparing and editing this manuscript.



In response to calls for more specificity when measuring physical activity, this study examined perceived correlates of this behavior in rural adults separately by the domain in which this behavior occurs (ie, home care, work, active living, and sport).


A cross-sectional survey was completed by 407 adults from 2 rural towns in the Midwest. The questionnaire assessed the perceived social and physical environment, including neighborhood characteristics, as well as barriers to being active. The Kaiser Physical Activity Survey captured domain-specific activity levels. The response rate was 25%. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the associations between social and physical environment factors and domain-specific physical activity.


Having a favorable attitude toward using government funds for exercise and activity-friendly neighborhood characteristic were positively associated with active living. Friends encouraging exercise was positively associated with participation in sport. Barriers were inversely associated with active living and sport. Total physical activity was positively associated with workplace incentives for exercise, favorable policy attitudes toward supporting physical education in schools and supporting the use of government funds for biking trails, and it was inversely associated with barriers. There were no factors associated with physical activity in the domains of work or home care.


Correlates of physical activity are unique to the domain in which this behavior occurs. Programs to increase physical activity in rural adults should target policy attitudes, neighborhood characteristics, and social support from friends while also working to decrease personal barriers to exercise.