Mothers and Fathers Both Matter: The Positive Influence of Parental Physical Activity Modeling on Children’s Leisure-Time Physical Activity

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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  • 1 Central Queensland University
  • 2 Georg-August-University Goettingen
  • 3 Hannover Medical School
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Purpose:

To investigate associations between maternal and paternal sport participation, and children’s leisure-time physical activity, and to explore differences by child gender.

Method:

The sample comprised 737 year five students (mean age: 11.0 ± 0.6 years, 52% male) recruited through the Fit for Pisa Project which was conducted in 2008 at 6 secondary schools in Goettingen, Germany. Maternal and paternal sport participation were assessed through child reports of mothers’ and fathers’ weekly participation in sport. Children’s leisure-time physical activity was measured as minutes/week that children engaged in organized and nonorganized sport. Multiple linear regression was used to assess associations between maternal and paternal sport participation, and children’s leisure-time physical activity.

Results:

Both maternal and paternal sport participation were positively associated with children’s leisure-time physical activity (maternal: b = 34.20, p < .001; paternal: b = 25.32, p < .05). When stratifying analyses by child gender, maternal sport participation remained significantly associated with leisure-time physical activity in girls (b = 60.64, p < .001). In contrast, paternal sport participation remained significantly associated with leisure-time physical activity in boys (b = 43.88, p < .01).

Conclusion:

Both maternal and paternal modeling positively influence children’s leisure-time physical activity.

Schoeppe is with the Central Queensland University, School of Human, Health and Social Sciences, Physical Activity Research Group, Rockhampton, Australia. Liersch, Krauth, and Walter are with the Hannover Medical School, Institute for Epidemiology, Social Medicine and Health Systems Research, Hanover, Germany. Röbl is with the Georg-August-University Goettingen, Centre for Child and Adolescent Health Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany.

Address author correspondence to Stephanie Schoeppe at s.schoeppe@cqu.edu.au.