Belief-Level Markers of Physical Activity among Young Adult Couples: Comparisons across People without Children and New Parents




Rhodes, Ryan E.
Blanchard, Chris M.
Benoit, Cecilia
Naylor, Patti Jean
Symons Downs, Danielle
Warburton, Darren E. R.
Levy-Milne, Ryna

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Psychology & Health


The health benefits of regular moderate-vigorous intensity physical activity (PA) are well established, yet few people are active enough to reap these benefits. Young adults, particularly parents, often show declines in PA and may represent a critical population for PA intervention. Theory-based correlates used to guide future interventions, however, are scant in this population. The purpose of this study was to examine theory of planned behavior belief-level constructs as correlates of directly assessed PA across cohorts of young adult couples a) without children and b) with their first child over the initial 12 months. Participants were 238 adults (102 not expecting a child, 136 expecting first child) who completed baseline demographics, belief measures of the TPB, and seven-day accelerometry, followed by assessments at six- and 12-months. Results showed select medium-sized belief-PA correlations with sex and cohort interactions. Overall, women had larger affect-based behavioral belief associations with PA then men, and mothers showed larger associations with control over PA due to the demands of childcare than fathers. Mothers also had larger associations between control beliefs and PA compared to women without children. Extremely high ceiling effects on the behavioral beliefs show limited room for changes in intervention while control beliefs show ample room for change. Control over PA due to the demands of childcare was particularly low in mothers. The results underscore key belief markers that may require targeted intervention in young adults and highlight some critical correlates of PA during early parenthood.



physical activity, theory of planned behavior, parenthood


Rhodes, R. E., Blanchard, C. M., Benoit, C., Naylor, P. J., Levy-Milne, R., Warburton, D. E. R., & Symons Downs, D. (2014). Belief-Level Markers of Physical Activity among Young Adult Couples: Comparisons across Couples without Children and New Parents. Psychology & Health, 29(11), 1320-1340.