Research on adolescent physical activity is mixed regarding the role of parent activity. This study tested parent encouragement, direct modeling, and perceived influence as moderators of objectively-measured (accelerometer) parent and child moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) associations.
Parent-child dyads (n = 423; mean child age = 11.33 yrs.) wore accelerometers for 7 days; parents completed surveys. Hierarchical linear regression models tested moderation using a product of constituent terms interaction.
Parent-reported encouragement moderated the association between parent and child MVPA (β = –.15, P = .01, ΔR 2 = .02, P < .01). Among parents with lower MVPA, child MVPA was higher for children receiving high encouragement (mean = 3.06, SE = .17) vs. low (mean = 3.03, SE = .15, P = .02) and moderate encouragement (mean = 3.40, SE = .09) vs. low (P = .04).
Physical activity promotion programs may use parent encouragement as a tool to boost child activity, but must consider other child and parent characteristics that could attenuate effects.