Examining the relationship between parental stress and girls' and boys' physical activity among racially/ ethnically diverse and immigrant/refugee populations

Jerica M. Berge, Octavia Cheatom, Angela R. Fertig, Allan Tate, Amanda Trofholz, Junia N. Brito, Nathan Shippee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Given the high prevalence of overweight/obesity and the low prevalence of engaging in physical activity in children, it is important to identify barriers that impede child physical activity. One potential barrier is parental stress. The current study examined the association between parental stress levels and girls' and boys' moderate to vigorous physical activity. Children aged 5-7 years and their families (n = 150) from 6 racial/ethnic groups (n = 25 each Black, Hispanic, Hmong, Native American, Somali, andWhite families) were recruited for the Family Matters mixed-methods study in 2015 through primary care clinics in Minneapolis and St Paul, MN. Two in-home visits were carried out with families 10 days apart for data collection, with an 8-day observational period in between when children wore accelerometers. Higher parental stress levels were associated with fewer minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity in girls (P < .05) compared with boys. On average, girls with a parent reporting a stress rating of 10 engaged in 24 minutes less of physical activity per day than girls with a parent with a stress rating of 1. The results suggest that parental stress may reduce girls' engagement in physical activity. The implications of these results include targeting parental stress and coping skills in future physical activity interventions. In addition, when addressing child physical activity in health care visits with parents and daughters, providers may want to focus their anticipatory guidance on parental stress and coping skills in addition to providing resources to help parents manage stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric exercise science
Issue number3
Early online dateMay 6 2021
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Family Matters study is a team effort and could not have been accomplished without the dedicated staff who carried out the home visits, including Awo Ahmed, Nimo Ahmed, Rodolfo Batres, Carlos Chavez, Mia Donley, Michelle Draxten, Carrie Hanson-Bradley, Sulekha Ibrahim, Walter Novillo, Alejandra Ochoa, Luis “Marty” Ortega, Anna Schulte, Hiba Sharif, Mai See Thao, Rebecca Tran, Bai Vue, and Serena Xiong. This research is supported by grant number R01HL126171 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (primary investigator: J.B.). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the National Institutes of Health. The authors have no financial disclosures to report. The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Human Kinetics, Inc.


  • Children
  • Diverse sample
  • Obesity
  • Sex differences


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