Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Glenda Lindseth


Introduction: The literature is mixed regarding behavioral methods that may effectively motivate children to increase physical activity levels. Because some research has shown parental influence can affect children's behavior, it is hypothesized that trained parental support may increase children's physical activity.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of parental support on children's physical activity. Pender's Health Promotion Model (HPM) served as a guide. The theoretical underpinnings of this model are based on the assumption that individuals are influenced by interpersonal factors such as parental support.

Design and Sample: For this pre-test/post-test interventional study, 30 children ages 8 to 12 years were recruited from a rural Midwestern Boys and Girls Club. Determined physical activity levels, perceived support, and perceived motivation were determined before and after implementation of a parental support intervention.

Methods: Physical activity levels were objectively measured by accelerometers. Perceived levels of physical activity, motivation, and support were measured using the Perceived Activity Questionnaire-Child, Social Support and Exercise Scale, Physical Activity Motivation Scale, and Amherst Health and Activity Adult Survey. Intervention parental support strategies included encouragement, praise, transportation, and participation with the child in physical activities. Parent and child survey scores,

accelerometer scores, demographics, and anthropometric measures were analyzed using paired t-tests.

Results: Results showed that after the intervention, both children (paired t= 7.43, p= 0.001) and their parents (paired t= 3.04, p= 0.001) perceived significantly greater parental support and motivation (paired t= 9.65, p= 0.001) to be physically active. Children were also significantly more physically active following the parental support intervention (paired t= 2.60, p= 0.01). Parental support may affect children's physical activity levels, but other confounding factors need to be studied in the future.

Implications: Results of this study has implications for improving the health and fitness of children through increased physical activity levels. Nurses are in a key position to influence parental behaviors through education, research, and policy as a means of improving children's physical activity levels.