Background: Parents are influential in supporting children’s physical activity, but relatively little is known about the role of fathers in children’s physical activity. Methods: Semi-structured interviews (n = 24) were conducted with low-active and active fathers of children 3–11 years old. Deductive thematic analysis was used to identify fathers’ physical activity practices and understand how fathers interact with their children around physical activity. Results: All fathers demonstrated coparticipation in physical activity with their children. Other physical activity practices commonly used by fathers included as follows: facilitation of active opportunities, modeling, involvement through coaching or teaching, and encouragement. In addition, fathers viewed physical activity as an opportunity to spend time with their children to bond and develop shared interests. Finally, fathers perceived their role in children’s physical activity to be different compared with mothers. Regarding father activity level, active fathers discussed modeling more frequently and tended to engage in a variety of different activities compared with low-active fathers. Conclusions: Fathers play an important role in their children’s physical activity, suggesting that physical activity may be one context in which to prompt paternal involvement, foster father–child relationships, and strengthen paternal parenting.
Cody D. Neshteruk, Deborah J. Jones, Asheley Skinner, Alice Ammerman, Deborah F. Tate and Dianne S. Ward
Stephanie Mazzucca, Derek Hales, Kelly R. Evenson, Alice Ammerman, Deborah F. Tate, Diane C. Berry and Dianne S. Ward
Background: Physical activity has many benefits for young children’s health and overall development, but few studies have investigated how early care and education centers allot time for physical activity, along with measured individual physical activity levels for indoor/outdoor activities during a typical day. Methods: Fifty early care and education centers in central North Carolina participated in 4 full-day observations, and 559 children aged 3–5 years within centers wore accelerometers assessing physical activity during observation days. Observation and physical activity data were linked and analyzed for associations between child activity and type of classroom activity. Results: Children averaged 51 (13) minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity and 99 (18) minutes per day of light physical activity while in child care. Children averaged 6 (10) and 10 (13) minutes per day of observed outdoor and indoor daily teacher-led physical activity, respectively. Outdoor time averaged 67 (49) minutes per day, and physical activity levels were higher during outdoor time than during common indoor activities (center time, circle time, and TV time). Conclusions: Physical activity levels varied between indoor and outdoor class activities. Policy and program-related efforts to increase physical activity in preschoolers should consider these patterns to leverage opportunities to optimize physical activity within early care and education centers.