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  • Author: Robert J. Robertson x
  • Psychology and Behavior in Sport/Exercise x
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Ethan E. Hull, Jeannette M. Garcia, Angela M. Kolen and Robert J. Robertson

Background:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusion:

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.

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Ethan Edward Hull, Dana L. Rofey, Robert J. Robertson, Elizabeth F. Nagle, Amy D. Otto and Deborah J. Aaron

Background:

Physical activity (PA) tends to decrease from adolescence to young adulthood, and factors that have been proposed to contribute to this decrease are life transitions. The focus of this study is to examine life transitions, such as marriage and parenthood, and the impact they may have on the physical activity levels of young adults.

Methods:

This 2-year prospective analysis assessed physical activity (hrs/wk) and sociodemo-graphics in young adults (n = 638, 48% male, 15% nonwhite, 24 ± 1.1 years old) via questionnaire. PA data were normalized through log transformations and examined using ANCOVAs, controlling for appropriate covariates.

Results:

ANCOVA results showed that becoming married did not significantly change PA compared with individuals who stayed single [F(1,338) = 0.38, P = .54, d = 0.06]. Conversely, PA was significantly lower [F(1,517) = 6.7, P = .01, d = 0.41] after having a child, compared with individuals who stayed childless.

Conclusions:

These results suggest that marriage does not impact PA in young adults, but having a child significantly decreases PA in parents, and may offer an optimal period of intervention.