Temperament and Physical Activity in Childhood

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Temperament activity level can serve as a proxy for nondeliberate activity and an important part of overall energy expenditure. However, little is known about any association between temperament activity level and children’s levels of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity. We examined whether temperament activity level in young children is associated with moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity later in childhood and midadolescence. We also assessed if parenting behaviors moderate any association. Methods: Data were obtained from 799 children and their mothers involved in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Growth curve analyses were used to examine the relationships over time, controlling for child and parent characteristics. Results: High temperament activity level at age 4.5 was associated with higher moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity at age 9 (β = 5.15; SE =2.47; P < .001). The association became no longer significant after 10.2 years of age. The association was moderated by parental support for physical activity (β = −2.56; SE = 1.01; P = .01). Conclusions: Low temperament activity level in early childhood was a risk factor for low physical activity in later childhood and adolescence. Parental support for physical activity may be beneficial for children whose temperament activity level is low.

Song is with the School of Nursing, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR; and Dept of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Corwyn is with the Dept of Psychology, The College of Social Sciences and Communication, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR. Bradley is with the Dept of Psychology, Center for Child and Family Success, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Lumeng is with the Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; Dept of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI; and Dept of Nutritional Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI.

Song (songm@ohsu.edu) is corresponding author.
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