Associations of Mothers’ and Children’s Stress With Children’s Device-Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Trajectories Across 3 Years

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Psychological stress has adverse effects on health-related behaviors, yet longitudinal research is lacking. Research examined how children’s and mothers’ perceived stress are associated with children’s physical activity and sedentary behavior trajectories across 3 years. Methods: Mothers and their children (N = 186 dyads; 8–12 y at baseline, 57% Hispanic) completed 6 assessments across 3 years. Children and mothers self-reported perceived stress using the Stress in Children Scale and Perceived Stress Scale, respectively. Children’s moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary behavior were assessed using accelerometers. Mixed models examined interactions of mothers’ and children’s perceived stress by time elapsed in the study on children’s MVPA and sedentary behavior. Results: The perceived stress × time elapsed interactions were significant for children’s MVPA and sedentary behavior (Ps < .05). Higher average perceived stress in mothers was associated with greater decreases in children’s MVPA and increases in children’s sedentary behavior. The child stress × time elapsed interactions was significant for children’s MVPA (P < .05) but not sedentary behavior. Higher average perceived stress in children was associated with smaller decreases in children’s MVPA. Conclusion: Interventions to promote physical activity and reduce screen time in children should mitigate the effects of psychological stress, especially among mothers, on these behaviors.

Dunton, Chu, Naya, Belcher, and Mason are with the Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA. Dunton is also with the Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Dunton (dunton@usc.edu) is corresponding author.
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