Abstract P183: Parents Play Significant Role in the Gender Differences Associated with Physical Activity in Elementary Students
BACKGROUND It has been proven that males engage in physical activity more than females starting at a young age. The goal of this study was to investigate gender differences based on parenting behaviors such as the frequency with which parents send their children out to play.
METHODS Parents of children participating in a free cardiovascular risk-screening program (CARDIAC Project) completed a behavioral survey. Children (n =472; 43.3% female) who were enrolled in elementary school participated in the study. Parents provided information about children’s physical activity and their own ways in which they provided support of activity at home. Children’s participation in 12 activities was captured by total number of minutes per week. A combined mean activity score was calculated by summing the children’s total time across all of the activities. Parent behavior, specifically the frequency at which parents send their children outside to play was captured using a Likert scale where “1” represented never and “5” represented daily. Child gender and the amount of time allowed outside for play were then entered into a linear regression model to examine their role as potential predictors of child activity.
RESULTS A significant gender difference (p<.001) was noted in children’s total activity time with boys (n = 237; 751 minutes/week) exhibiting higher mean activity each week than girls (n = 229; 521 minutes/week). Child gender and the amount of time allowed outside to play significantly predicted children’s activity levels overall. This model explained 28.9% of the variance in children’s activity levels (F = 20.25 (2); p<.001). Specifically, girls had less opportunity (3.75) than boys (4.05) to play outside.
CONCLUSION A factor behind the lesser physical activity in female adolescents is significantly related to the decreased opportunity to play outside. Additional parenting practices will be shared if presented. In conclusion, parent behavior plays a significant role in the proven gender differences with childhood physical activity.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.