A decrease in the association between the physical activity patterns of Australian parents and their children; 1985-1997

J Sci Med Sport. 2005 Mar;8(1):71-6. doi: 10.1016/s1440-2440(05)80026-x.


The present study investigated the interactions between parents' and children's physical activity levels by examining whether or not parents who exercise have children who participate in sport. Of primary interest was an investigation of trends in these interactions over time. Information was collected from 10-13 y old children in 1985 (n = 2463) and then again in 1997-99 (n = 1469), about their sports participation and their perceptions of parents' exercise habits. Boys' participation in at least one sport declined from 87% in 1985 to 76% in 1997/1999 while, among girls, participation fell from 80% to 71%. According to their children's perceptions, mothers exercising regularly fell from 36% to 31% between surveys, while fathers exercising regularly fell from 39% to 32%. Interactions between parents' and children's exercise and sports behaviours were examined employing chi-square analysis techniques. Results showed gender-specific relationships for the 1985 sample, such that active fathers were associated with increased participation in sports by boys, and inactive mothers were associated with less participation in sports by girls. These interactions seemed to diminish over time. It is possible that changes in social structures during this time may be affecting familial behaviour relationships, such as the role modelling of active behaviours.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Perception
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sports / trends*