Life Events and Longitudinal Effects on Physical Activity: Adolescence to Adulthood

Jonathan Miller, Toben Nelson, Daheia J. Barr-Anderson, Mary J. Christoph, Megan Winkler, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Common life events, such as getting married or gaining employment, may be opportunities to intervene on health behaviors like physical activity. The purpose of this study was to determine the changes in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) associated with several common life events from adolescence to young adulthood.

METHODS: Participants in Project EAT (ages 11 to 18 yr at baseline and 25 to 36 yr at wave 4) were surveyed at four timepoints from 1998 to 2016. Questions included marital status, employment status, postsecondary education completion and enrollment, and living situation between each wave. Linear regression was used to model the effect of each life event on change in self-reported MVPA. Post hoc mediation analysis was conducted to examine whether having a child mediated the effect of getting married on the change in MVPA.

RESULTS: Average MVPA declined from 6.5 h·wk at baseline to 4.3 h·wk at wave 4. Having a child was associated with a significant decrease in MVPA between waves 2 and 3 and between waves 3 and 4. Getting married and leaving parents' home were associated with significant decreases in MVPA between waves 3 and 4. Having a child both mediated and moderated the effect of getting married on MVPA.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence that MVPA declines both after getting married and after having a child and that these effects are not independent. Interventions to maintain or increase MVPA could profitably target couples planning to get married or have a child.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-670
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grant R01HL116892 to investigator Dianne Neumark-Sztainer from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Jonathan Miller is supported by grant T32CA163184 from the National Cancer Institute (PI: Michele Allen). Mary J. Christoph is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under National Research Service Award (NRSA) in Primary Medical Care, grant number T32HP22239 (PI: Iris Borowsky). Dr Winkler is supported by grant T32DK083250 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (PI: Dr Jeffery). 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, the National Cancer Institute, US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases or the National Institutes of Health. The results of this study are presented clearly, honestly, and without fabrication, falsification, or inappropriate data manipulation. The results of the present study do not constitute endorsement by ACSM.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine.


  • Age Factors
  • Exercise/psychology
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Parents
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Race Factors
  • Health Behavior
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Adolescent
  • Sex Factors
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Marriage

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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