Research Study Abstract

Mother-child dyads’ patterns of daily physical activity and sedentariness

  • Presented on May 21, 2014

Purpose: Motherhood represents a critical window of change in the life-course including physical activity levels. No studies have objectively examined the daily cadence (patterns) of physical activity (PA) among dyads of preschool aged children and mothers. In this study we examined mother-child dyads’ PA levels across week and weekend day at different times of the day.

Methods: Accelerometer data of 45 mothers and their 3.5-year old child were categorised according to adult and child-specific cut-points (sedentary (SED), light-(LPA) moderate-to-vigorous (MVPA) physical activity and MVPA bouts >10mins). Paired- T-tests were used to examine mother-child differences in SED/LPA/MVPA by type and time of day.

Results: Compared to their child, mothers spent significantly less time in each activity category per day, except LPA (difference; 253.9mins, P<0.001). Children spent approximately 50% more time in daily MVPA, averaging an additional 59.3mins/day (P<0.001). There was a fourfold difference between mother and child and the number of daily MVPA bouts >10/mins (0.5vs2.0; P<0.001).

Conclusions: Dyads’ daily sedentariness and LPA was congruent, increasing from early morning, peaking in early afternoon and decreasing in late afternoon. Conversely dyad’s pattern of MVPA, were divergent, with mothers maintaining very low levels of MVPA across the day while their child’s MVPA and MVPA bouts increased during the morning and decreased around 7pm. The findings suggest that different times of the day may hold promise to encourage mothers to increase their MVPA concurrently with their child’s which may in turn provide a positive feedback loop to increasing MVPA in mother-child dyads.