Research Study Abstract

Impact of parents’ physical activity on preschool children’s physical activity: a cross-sectional study

  • Published on Feb 27, 2018

Purpose: This study examined the associations of physical activity levels between parents and their pre-school children based on gender and weekday/weekend.

Method: A total of 247 parent-preschool child triads from Shanghai, China were analyzed. The children had a mean age of 57.5 ± 5.2 months. Both sedentary behavior and physical activity were measured in all participants using an ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometer over seven consecutive days from Monday through the following Sunday. A multivariate regression model was derived to identify significant relationships between parental and child physical activity according to gender and weekday/weekend.

Results: There was a significant correlation between mothers’ and girls’ moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and total physical activity (TPA) on weekdays. Fathers’ MPVA levels correlated significantly with those of boys and girls, with paternal influence appearing to be stronger than maternal influence. However, there was not a significant correlation between fathers’ and children’s TPA. TPA levels of both mothers and fathers correlated with those of girls, but not with those of boys. Parental sedentary levels on the weekend correlated significantly with girls’ levels, but not with boys’ levels. Children’s physical activity levels on weekends were influenced more by fathers’ activity levels than by mothers’, while the opposite was observed on weekdays.

Conclusion: Sedentary behavior and physical activity levels of parents can strongly influence those of their preschool children, with maternal influence stronger during the weekdays and paternal influence stronger on the weekends. Parents’ activity levels influence girls’ levels more strongly than they influence boys’ levels.


  • Chang Xu 1
  • Minghui Quan 1
  • Hanbin Zhang 1,2
  • Chenglin Zhou 1
  • PeiJie Chen 1


  • 1

    School of Kinesiology, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai, China

  • 2

    Health Promotion Center, Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital, Hangzhou, China


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