Associations Between Maternal Support and Physical Activity Among 5th Grade Students

Melinda Forthofer, Marsha Dowda, Kerry McIver, Daheia J. Barr-Anderson, Russell Pate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background A large body of research has established an association between parental support for children’s physical activity (PA) and children’s PA. However, there has been little attention to the relative influences of parent and child perceptions of that parental support. Purpose To examine agreement among parent and child perceptions of parent support for PA and whether these perceptions are associated with objectively-measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) among those children. Methods Cross-sectional associations between PA of children measured via accelerometers and child-reported and mother-reported perceptions of parental support for children’s PA were assessed via mixed-model regression analyses in a cohort of 693 5th graders. Results Children’s perceptions of parental support for PA were consistent with those of their mothers. Nonetheless, in models that included both children’s and mothers’ perceptions of parental support for PA, mothers’ perceptions, but not children’s perceptions, were significantly associated with children’s PA. Associations were consistent for Total MVPA, After School MVPA, and Evening MVPA, with stronger associations among males than among females. Conclusion Maternal support may influence children’s PA. Studies which consider only children’s accounts of parental support may overlook important mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)720-729
Number of pages10
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Child behavior
  • Exercise
  • Motor activity
  • Parenting
  • Social support


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