Influence of marriage and parenthood on physical activity: a 2-year prospective analysis

J Phys Act Health. 2010 Sep;7(5):577-83. doi: 10.1123/jpah.7.5.577.


Background: Physical activity (PA) tends to decrease from adolescence to young adulthood, and factors that have been proposed to contribute to this decrease are life transitions. The focus of this study is to examine life transitions, such as marriage and parenthood, and the impact they may have on the physical activity levels of young adults.

Methods: This 2-year prospective analysis assessed physical activity (hrs/wk) and sociodemographics in young adults (n = 638, 48% male, 15% nonwhite, 24 ± 1.1 years old) via questionnaire. PA data were normalized through log transformations and examined using ANCOVAs, controlling for appropriate covariates.

Results: ANCOVA results showed that becoming married did not significantly change PA compared with individuals who stayed single [F(1,338) = 0.38, P = .54, d = 0.06]. Conversely, PA was significantly lower [F(1,517) = 6.7, P = .01, d = 0.41] after having a child, compared with individuals who stayed childless.

Conclusions: These results suggest that marriage does not impact PA in young adults, but having a child significantly decreases PA in parents, and may offer an optimal period of intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Marriage*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Parents*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • Young Adult