Developmental patterns and parental correlates of youth leisure-time physical activity

Chun Bun Lam, Susan M. McHale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This study examined the developmental patterns and parental correlates of youth leisure-time physical activity from middle childhood through adolescence. On 5 occasions across 7 years, fathers, mothers, and children who were first- and second born from 201 European American, working- and middle-class families participated in home and multiple nightly phone interviews. Multilevel modeling revealed that, controlling for family socioeconomic status, neighborhood characteristics, and youth overweight status and physical health, leisure-time physical activity increased during middle childhood and declined across adolescence, and the decline was more pronounced for girls than for boys. Moreover, controlling for time-varying, parental work hours and youth interest in sports and outdoor activities, on occasions when fathers and mothers spent proportionally more time on these activities with youth than usual, youth also spent more total time on these activities than usual. The within-person association between mother-youth joint involvement and youth's total involvement in leisure-time physical activity reached statistical significance at the transition to adolescence, and became stronger over time. Findings highlight the importance of maintaining adolescents', especially girls', physical activity levels and targeting both fathers' and mothers' involvement to promote youth's physical activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-107
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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