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Parental Physical Activity: Exploring the Role of Social Support

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Objectives : To explore the influence of social support on parental physical activity (PA).

Methods : Forty parents (21 mothers, 19 fathers) participated in semistructured individual or group interviews. Data were analyzed using thematic content analysis.

Results : Instrumental (eg, providing child care, taking over chores), emotional (eg, encouragement, companionship), and informational support (eg, ideas and advice) as well as reciprocal support (eg, giving as well as receiving support) and autonomy support (eg, respecting one's choices) are important for parents' PA behavior. However, having support for being active is not straightforward in that many parents discussed issues that inhibited the facilitative nature of social support for PA performance (eg, guilt in getting help).

Conclusions : Results highlight the complex nature of social support in facilitating parental PA.
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Keywords: exercise; parent; physical activity; qualitative; social support

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Associate Professor, School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park Road, Queensland, Australia.

Publication date: 01 September 2010

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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