Correlates of physical activity in a national sample of children aged 9-13 years

Prev Med. 2006 Apr;42(4):254-60. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2006.01.010. Epub 2006 Feb 20.


Background: Physical activity (PA) is critical for children's normal growth and development. The purpose of this study was to assess potential correlates of physical activity in a US national sample of youth aged 9-13 years.

Methods: A nationally representative telephone survey of parent-child pairs was conducted from April through June 2002. The questions assessed organized and free-time physical activity behavior and psychosocial and environmental variables that are potentially related to youth physical activity.

Results: Children's positive outcome expectations or beliefs about the benefits of participating in physical activity and parent's beliefs that participating in physical activity is important were related to participation in both organized and free-time physical activity. Children's perception of parental support and parent's reports of direct support were strongly related to organized physical activity. Feeling safe, having lots of places to be active, and parental participation with their child were strongly related to free-time physical activity.

Conclusions: Messages and interventions aiming to increase children and adolescent's participation in organized and free-time physical activity should continue to focus on promoting the benefits that are associated with being active, the importance of parental support, and the provision of safe and enjoyable opportunities to be active.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Parenting
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Support*
  • United States