Parental correlates of physical activity in children and early adolescents

Sports Med. 2006;36(1):79-97. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200636010-00006.


This article is intended to unite the existing research on parental influences on children's physical activity behaviours in order to establish direction for future research and improve existing child physical activity intervention programmes. A comprehensive, 34-study review of parental correlates of child physical activity was conducted and six variables were examined. There were significant correlations found between parental support and child physical activity level. Results for an association between parental and child physical activity levels, however, were mixed. There were not enough studies to draw conclusions about single-parent families, family socioeconomic status and ethnicity. Finally, there were some weak inter- and intra-generational sex correlations, but these results were mostly inconclusive. Possible mechanisms, including parental support, modelling, shared activities, societal differences by generation, minority groups and genetics are discussed, and recommendations are made on translating experimental results into tangible intervention efforts essential for disease prevention through increased physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • British Columbia
  • Child
  • Ethnicity
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Social Class