Physically active families - de-bunking the myth? A qualitative study of family participation in physical activity

JL Thompson, RP Jago, JR Brockman, K Cartwright, AS Page, KR Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The benefits of physical activity for reducing obesity and related chronic diseases are well known. The need for more family-based interventions to increase physical activity is frequently cited in the literature, however little is known about if and how families are physically active together, and what factors might influence family-based participation in regular physical activity. This study examined the types of activities (physical and sedentary) engaged in as a family and explored parents’ perceptions of the importance, frequency, nature and barriers to family physical activity. Methods: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 30 parents (26 female, 4 male) of 10 to 11 year old schoolchildren who attended either low, middle, or high SES schools in Bristol, United Kingdom. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, anonymised, and analysed using conventional content analysis. Results: The majority of parents rated family engagement in physical activity as important, and identified benefits such as increased parent-child communication, spending time together, enjoyment, enhanced mental health, weight control, and physical fitness. Despite these benefits most parents reported their families did little or no physical activity together as a family unit during the week, and any activities done together were usually sedentary in nature. They reported increased family physical activity on the weekends but rarely including the full family unit simultaneously. Parents in two-parent households commonly paired off with one or more children due to complexities of schedules. Commonly reported barriers were busy lifestyles, diverse ages and interests of children and adults, bad weather, and lack of access to facilities, transportation and money to support activities. Conclusions: Family-based interventions might be more effective if they are designed to accommodate the complex demands and needs of two-parent and single-parent families and provide affordable, diverse activities appealing to a wide range of interests.
Translated title of the contributionPhysically active families - de-bunking the myth? A qualitative study of family participation in physical activity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265 - 274
Number of pages10
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Volume36(2)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Blackwell Publishing, Ltd

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