New Study: Association Between Children’s and Parents’ Physical Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Lagged Analysis

A team of researchers led by Monika Szpunar with Matthew Bourke, Leigh M. Vanderloo, Brianne A. Bruijns, Stephanie Truelove, Shauna M. Burke, Jason Gilliland, Jennifer D. Irwin, and Patricia Tucker recently published an article entitled: “Association Between Children’s and Parents’ Physical Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Lagged Analysis.”

COVID-19 caused closures of movement supporting environments such as gyms and schools in Canada. This study evaluated the association between Ontario parents’ and children’s physical activity levels across time during COVID-19, controlling for variables that were identified as significant predictors of children’s and parents’ physical activity (e.g., children’s age, parents’ employment status).

Parents (n = 243; mean age = 38.8 y) of children aged 12 and under (n = 408; mean age = 6.3 y) living in Ontario, Canada completed 2 online surveys, the first between August and December 2020 and the second between August and December 2021. At baseline, parents were asked to recall pre-pandemic physical activity levels. To determine the association between parent and child physical activity during COVID-19, a cross-lagged model was estimated to determine the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between parents’ and children’s physical activity across time.

Bivariate associations revealed that parents’ and children’s physical activity levels were significantly related during lockdown and postlockdown but not prelockdown. The autoregressive paths from prelockdown to during lockdown were significant for children (β = 0.53, P < .001) and parents (β = 1.058, P < .001) as were the autoregressive paths from during lockdown to postlockdown for children (β = 0.61, P < .001) and parents (β = 0.48, P < .001). In fully adjusted models, the cross-lagged association between parents’ physical activity prelockdowns was significantly positively associated with their children’s physical activity during lockdowns (β = 0.19, P = .013).

Resources are needed to ensure that children and parents are obtaining sufficient levels of physical activity, particularly during a pandemic.

Citation: Monika Szpunar, Matthew Bourke, Leigh M. Vanderloo, Brianne A. Bruijns, Stephanie Truelove, Shauna M. Burke, Jason Gilliland, Jennifer D. Irwin, and Patricia Tucker. “Association Between Children’s and Parents’ Physical Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Lagged Analysis.” Journal of Physical Activity and Health; 2023. https://doi.org/10.1123/jpah.2023-0356

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