An overview and proposed framework of social-environmental influences on the physical-activity behavior of women.
The primary purposes of this review were to identify key social-environmental influences on the physical-activity behavior of women and to propose an organizing framework of these influences in the social environment. Computerized searches of MEDLINE, Science Direct, and CINAHL were conducted to identify relevant research. Study Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria. Studies were included if they used a sample of adult women or included gender-specific analysis, identified or measured some aspect of the social environment in relation to physical activity, and were published in English within the last two decades. Characteristics of study design, sample population, and identified social-environmental variables were extracted. Through an iterative review of the data by several researchers, common influences and themes were identified and organized into a social environment framework, which included the following components: social support/social networks, life transitions/ multiple roles, and cultural standards/gender role expectations. Women are exposed to societal messages that indicate physical activity is not a priority and may be inappropriate; they may also lack the social support necessary to adopt and maintain physical activity. This review reveals the complex range of factors in the social environment that influence women, and it provides support for the importance of the social environment on physical-activity behavior in women. A social-environmental framework related to Bronfenbrenner's social ecological model is proposed along with recommended strategies to apply in interventions targeting women.