Family Physical Activity Planning and Child Physical Activity Outcomes: A Randomized Trial




Rhodes, Ryan E.
Blanchard, Chris M.
Quinlan, Alison
Naylor, Patti-Jean
Warburton, Darren E. R.

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American Journal of Preventative Medicine


Introduction: Regular moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) and high physical fitness are extremely important to the health of children and track to positive health profiles in adulthood. Family-based interventions to improve MVPA are essential given that children live within a structure of parental influence. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a parent planning skills intervention to support child physical activity on the subsequent MVPA (primary outcome) and fitness of their children across 26 weeks (primary endpoint). Methods: One hundred and two children (aged 6 to 12 yr), who were below international physical activity recommendations at baseline, were recruited through advertisements and randomized to either the planning + education condition (n = 52) or an education only condition (n = 50). MVPA was assessed via accelerometry at baseline, six-week, 13-week, and 26-week time-periods and fitness (aerobic fitness, muscular strength, flexibility), and body mass index tests were conducted at baseline and 26-weeks. The trial was conducted with rolling recruitment between 2012-2017. Results: Generalized linear mixed modeling conducted in 2019 showed that the patterns varied by condition over time (beta = -.05; p < .05), where children in the planning intervention significantly increased MVPA compared to the education condition at six-weeks and 13-weeks but not at 26-weeks. Aerobic fitness (p = 0.04; d = 0.26) was the only significant health-related physical fitness change between the two groups, and favored the planning group over the education group. Conclusions: There was initial efficacy of the planning intervention, but effectiveness waned by 26-weeks. These changes appeared to be sufficient for modest changes in aerobic fitness. Future research should aim to improve the maintenance of these early positive changes and assist parents in planning for activities that also include opportunities to improve child musculoskeletal fitness.




Rhodes, R. E., Blanchard, C., Quinlan, A., Naylor, P. J., & Warburton, D. E. R. (2019). Family physical activity planning and child physical activity outcomes: A randomized trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 57(2), 135-144.