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Paediatr Child Health. 2012 Mar;17(3):e20-4.

Daily physical activity in young children and their parents: A descriptive study.

Author information

1
Departments of Pediatrics and Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary; ; Behavioural Research Unit, Alberta Children's Hospital; ; Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health, Calgary, Alberta.

Abstract

in English, French

BACKGROUND:

Little is known about physical activity (PA) in young children and about the relationship between their PA and that of their parents.

OBJECTIVE:

The main purpose of the present study (Y-Be-Active) was to examine the daily PA levels of young children and their parents, and to explore the relationship between children's and parents' PA.

METHOD:

Fifty-four children (mean age 4.3 years) and their parents (54 mothers, mean age 35.8 years; 50 fathers, mean age 38.2 years) wore accelerometers for three weekdays and two weekend days. Parents also completed questionnaires on family sociodemographics and PA habits.

RESULTS:

Children spent most of their time in light PA. Almost all children attained 30 min of daily moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), and most boys and girls attained 60 min of daily MVPA on weekdays. Only 60% of fathers and approximately one-half of mothers attained 30 min of daily MVPA on weekdays and weekend days. Children's and fathers' PA were correlated on weekends. Few parents (20% to 30%) participated regularly in organised PA with their child. Fathers' involvement in PA with their children was associated with higher MVPA in children.

CONCLUSIONS:

Many young children and parents did not meet current Canadian recommendations for daily PA. Parental involvement in PA with their young children, particularly the involvement of fathers, appeared to promote higher levels of MVPA in young children.

BACKGROUND:

Little is known about physical activity (PA) in young children and about the relationship between their PA and that of their parents.

OBJECTIVE:

The main purpose of the present study (Y-Be-Active) was to examine the daily PA levels of young children and their parents, and to explore the relationship between children’s and parents’ PA.

METHOD:

Fifty-four children (mean age 4.3 years) and their parents (54 mothers, mean age 35.8 years; 50 fathers, mean age 38.2 years) wore accelerometers for three weekdays and two weekend days. Parents also completed questionnaires on family sociodemographics and PA habits.

RESULTS:

Children spent most of their time in light PA. Almost all children attained 30 min of daily moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), and most boys and girls attained 60 min of daily MVPA on weekdays. Only 60% of fathers and approximately one-half of mothers attained 30 min of daily MVPA on weekdays and weekend days. Children’s and fathers’ PA were correlated on weekends. Few parents (20% to 30%) participated regularly in organised PA with their child. Fathers’ involvement in PA with their children was associated with higher MVPA in children.

CONCLUSIONS:

Many young children and parents did not meet current Canadian recommendations for daily PA. Parental involvement in PA with their young children, particularly the involvement of fathers, appeared to promote higher levels of MVPA in young children.

KEYWORDS:

Parents; Physical activity; Young children

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