Parenting Practices and Children’s Physical Activity

Parenting Practices and Children’s Physical Activity: An Integrative Review

Amy Hutchens, PhD(c), RN, CNE1, and Rebecca E. Lee, PhD2

Abstract

The purpose of this integrative review was to analyze the state of science concerning the influence of parenting practices on children’s physical activity (PA) levels. A total of 38 studies met the inclusion criteria after full-text review. The body of research is limited in experimental designs with only three studies measuring the influence of the intervention on parenting practices. Seven of the 30 quantitative studies (23.3%) found significant associations between parental role modeling of PA and children’s PA levels. Seven of the eight (87.5%) qualitative studies identified parental role modeling of PA as important in promoting children’s PA. Sixteen of the 30 (53.3%) quantitative studies found that parental support of PA was significantly associated with children’s PA. Five of the eight (62.5%) qualitative studies identified logistic support as supporting PA in children. The science could be expanded by the development of randomized controlled trials aimed at this area.

Keywords

parenting, exercise, child, review, school nursing

A dramatic reduction in the amount of physical activity (PA)

occurs between the school age and adolescent years. People

who are physically active typically live longer than those

who are not (Paffenbarger, Hyde, Wing, & Hsieh, 1986).

They also have lower rates of heart disease, stroke, type 2

diabetes, depression, and some cancers (American Heart

Association, 2013). This is also true for children. PA leads

to substantial physical and psychological health benefits

for youth (Strong et al., 2005). Parents influence children’s

PA levels; however, the extent and nature of this relation-

ship is not clearly defined or documented. Parenting prac-

(Davison & Campbell, 2005). It is critical to understand the

role that parents play in children’s activity behaviors. The

purpose of this integrative review is to analyze the state of

science concerning the influence of parenting practices on

children’s PA.

Purpose

PA is a vital component for good health and long life. It is

associated with increased fitness, improved cardiovascular

and metabolic disease risk factors, decreased likelihood of

developing type 2 diabetes, improved bone strength, and

improved mental well-being (National Physical Activity

Plan, 2014). In the United States, although 42% of children ages 6–11 years meet the recommended daily levels of 60 or

more min of moderate to vigorous PA per day, only 8% of youth aged 12- to 15 years old meet that recommendation

(National Physical Activity Plan, 2014). PA helps one main-

tain a healthy body weight (McTiernan et al., 2007). By

2030, 13 states could have obesity rates above 60% (Levi, Segal, St. Laurent, Lang, & Rayburn, 2012). Improvement in

PA levels may help to prevent obesity.

Although many factors have been shown to contribute to

children’s PA, parents have been identified as key in the

promotion of PA (O’Connor, Jago, & Barnowski, 2009).

Parents serve as important guides and role models for PA,

and they organize and fund children’s involvement in phys-

ical activities (Davison, Cutting, & Burch, 2003). Evidence

aimed at understanding the influence of parenting practices

on children’s PA levels is emerging, but the depth and

breadth are not clear. A review of parenting practices was

conducted by Xu, Wen, and Rissel (2015) but did not include

qualitative evidence (Xu, Wen, & Rissel, 2015), limiting the

depth of the review and conclusions that might be drawn

1 Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing, University of Oklahoma Health

Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA 2 Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, College of Nursing

and Health Innovation, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, USA

Corresponding Author:

Amy Hutchens, PhD(c), RN, CNE, Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing,

University of Oklahoma Health Sciences

tices include ways in which parents may shape their

children’s PA habits including increasing knowledge, mod-

eling PA, and providing accessibility to healthy PA options

 

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