Parenthood and Physical Activity in Young Adults: A Qualitative Study

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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New parents have to adjust to less sleep, less free time, and more responsibility as a result of having a child. The purpose of this study was to examine how having a child impacts the physical activity (PA) beliefs and behaviors of new parents over a 2- to 3-year time period.


Participants included 49 men and women (31% men, 96% white) who did not have a child at baseline (26.3 ± 1.1 years old) but did have a child at the time of follow-up (28.9 ± 1.7 years old). The child’s mean age at follow-up was 12 ± 7 months old. PA was measured via questionnaire at baseline and again at follow-up. Interviews regarding PA occurred at follow-up.


PA significantly decreased in parents across the time period (P < .001), and parents attributed this decrease to having a child and being pregnant. Parents mentioned they lack time, energy, and motivation for PA as a result of caring for a new child. Parents who maintained their activity level stated they prioritized PA and chose activities they enjoyed.


These results show that although activity levels decrease in individuals who have a child, PA in new parents may be a function of priority, intensity, and enjoyment.

Hull ( is with the Physical and Health Education Dept, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA. Garcia is with the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Kolen is with the Dept of Human Kinetics, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS, Canada. Robertson is with the Health and Physical Activity Dept, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.